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Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1842, by Dr. A. W. Mitchell, 
in the Office of the Clerk of the District Court of the Eastern District of 

S" 3 

Printed by 


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tmp96 027345 


Editor's Preface 9 

Preface by M. Daille. 16 

Dedication 20 




On the Difficulty of ascertaining the Opinions of the Fathers in refer- 
ence to the present Controversies in Religion, deduced from the fact 
that there is very little of their Writings extant of the first three 
Centuries. * . 23 


Those Writings which we have of the Fathers of the first Centuries, 
treat of matters far different from the present Controversies in Reli- 
gion. ... 29 


Those Writings which bear the names of the ancient Fathers, are not 
all really such ; but a great portion of them supposititious and forged, 
either long since or at later periods. .... 33 



The Writings of the Fathers, which are considered legitimate, have 
been in many places corrupted by time, ignorance and fraud, pious 
and malicious, both in the early and later Ages. . . 55 


The Writings of the Fathers are difficult to be understood, on account 
of the Languages and Idioms in which they wrote, and the manner 
of their Writing, which is encumbered with rhetorical flourishes, and 
logical subtleties, and with terms used in a sense far different from 
what they now bear 92 


The Fathers frequently conceal their own private Opinions, and say 
what they did not believe; either in reporting the Opinion of others, 
without naming them, as in their Commentaries ; or disputing against 
an Adversary, where they make use of whatever they are able; or 
accommodating themselves to their Auditory, as may be observed in 
their Homilies 123 


The Fathers have not always held the same Doctrine ; but have changed 
some of their Opinions, according as their judgment has become 
matured by study or age 141 


It is necessary, but nevertheless difficult, to discover how the Fathers 
held all their several Opinions; whether as necessary, or as probable 
only ; and in what degree of necessity or probability. 147 


We ought to know what were the Opinions, not of one or more 
of the Fathers, but of the whole ancient Church : which is a very 
difficult matter to discover 160 



It is very difficult to ascertain whether the Opinions of the Fathers, as 
to the Controversies of the present day, were received by the Church 
Universal, or only by some portion of it ; this being necessary to 
be known, before their sentiments can be adopted. . . 167 


It is impossible to know exactly what was the belief of the ancient 
Church, either Universal or Particular, as to any of those points which 
are at this day controverted amongst us. . . . 174 




The Testimonies given by the Fathers, on the Doctrines of the Church, 
are not always true and certain 187 


The Fathers testify themselves, that they are not to be believed abso- 
lutely, and upon their own bare Assertion, in what they declare in 
matters of Religion. ....... 196 


The Fathers have written in such a manner, as to make it clear that 
when they wrote they had no intention of being our authorities in 
matters of Religion ; as evinced by examples of their mistakes and 
oversights. ......... 224 



The Fathers have erred in divers points of Religion ; not only singly, 
but also many of them together. ..... 245 


The Fathers have strongly Contradicted one another, and have main- 
tained different Opinions in matters of very great importance. 296 


Neither the Church of Rome nor the Protestants acknowledge the 
Fathers for their Judges in points of Religion ; both of them reject- 
ing such of their Opinions and Practices as are not suited to their 
taste ; being an answer to two Objections that may be made against 
what is delivered in this Discourse 308 


"The authority of the Fathers (says Bishop Warbur- 
lon, in his introduction to Julian,) had for many ages 
been esteemed sacred. These men, by taking the 
Greek philosophers to their assistance, in explaining 
the nature and genius of the Gospel, had unhappily 
turned religion into an art; and their successors the 
schoolmen, by framing a body of theology out of them, 
instead of searching for it in the Scriptures, soon after 
turned it into a trade. But (as in all affairs where 
reason docs not hold the balance) that which had been 
extravagantly advanced, was, on the turn of the times, 
as extravagantly undervalued. It may not therefore 
be amiss to acquaint the English reader, in few words, 
how this came to pass. 

" When the avarice and ambition of the Romish 
clergy had, by working with the superstition and 
ignorance of the people, erected what they call their 
hierarchy, and digested an ecclesiastical policy on the 
ruins of Gospel liberty, for the administration of it, 
they found nothing of such use for the support of this 
Lordly system, as the making the authority of the 
Fathers sacred and decisive. For having introduced 
numerous errors and superstitions both in rites and 
doctrine, which the silence and the declaration of 
Scripture equally condemned, they were obliged to 
seal up those living oracles, and open this new ware- 
house of the dead. And it was no wonder if in that 
shoal of writers (as a poet of our own calls it) which 



the great drag-net of time hath inclosed, and brought 
down to us, under the name of Fathers, there should 
be some amongst them of a character suited to coun- 
tenance any kind of folly or extravagance. The de- 
cisions of the Fathers, therefore, they thought fit to 
treat as laws, and to collect them into a kind of code, 
under the title of the Sentences. 

" From this time every thing was tried at the bar of 
the Fathers; and so unquestioned was their jurisdic- 
tion, that when the great defection was made from the 
Church of Rome back again to the Church of Christ, 
the reformed, though they shook off the tyranny of 
the Pope, could not disengage themselves from the 
unbounded authority of the Fathers; but carried that 
prejudice with them, as they did some others of a 
worse complexion, into the Protestant religion. For 
in sacred matters, as novelty is suspicious, and anti- 
quity venerable, they thought it for their credit to have 
the Fathers on their side. They seemed neither to 
consider antiquity in general as a thing relative, nor 
Christian antiquity as a thing positive : either of which 
would have shown them that the Fathers themselves 
were modern, compared to that authority on which 
the Reformation was founded; and that the Gospel 
was that true antiquity on which all its followers 
should repose themselves. The consequence of which 
unhappy error was, that, in the long appeal to reason, 
between Protestants and Papists, both of them going 
on a common principle, of the decisive authority of 
the Fathers, enabled the latter to support their credit 
against all the evidence of common sense and sacred 

" At length an excellent writer of the Reformed, 
observing that the controversy was likely to be end- 
less; for though the gross corruptions of Popery were 
certainly later than the third, fourth, and fifth centu- 
ries, to which the appeal was usually made, yet the 
seeds of them being then sown, and beginning to pul- 
lulate, it was but too plain there was hold enough for 
a skilful debater to draw the Fathers to his own side, 


and make them water the sprouts they had been plant- 
ing: observing this, I say, he wisely projected to shift 
the ground, and force the disputants to vary their 
method, both of attack and defence. In order to this 
he composed a discourse of the True Use of the Fa- 
thers; in which, with uncommon learning and strength 
of argument, he showed that the Fathers were incom- 
petent deciders of the controversies now on foot; since 
the points in question were not formed into articles 
till long after the ages in which they lived. This was 
bringing the Fathers from the bench to the table; de- 
grading them from the rank of judges into the class 
of simple evidence ; in which, too, they were not to 
speak, like Irish evidence, in every cause where they 
were wanted, but only to such matters as were agreed 
to be within their knowledge. Had this learned critic 
stopped here, his book had been free from blame ; but 
at the same time his purpose had in all likelihood 
proved very ineffectual; for the obliquity of old pre- 
judices is not to be set straight by reducing it to that 
line of right which barely restores it to integrity. He 
went much further: and by showing, occasionally, 
that they were absurd interpreters of holy writ ; that 
they were bad reasoners in morals, and very loose 
evidence in facts ; he seemed willing to have his reader 
infer, that even though they had been masters of the 
subject, yet these other defects would have rendered 
them very unqualified deciders. 

" However, the work of this famous foreigner had 
great consequences: and especially with us here at 
home. The more learned amongst the nobility (which, 
at that time, was of the republic of letters,) were 
the first who emancipated themselves from the gene- 
ral prejudice. It brought the excellent Lord Falkland 
to think moderately of the Fathers, and to turn his 
theological inquiries into a more useful channel; and 
his great rival in arts, the famous Lord Digby, found 
it of such use to him, in his defence of the Reforma- 
tion against his cousin Sir Kenhelm, that he has even 
epitomised it in his fine letter on that subject. But 


what it has chiefly to boast of is, that it gave birth to 
the two best defences ever written on the two best 
subjects, religion and liberty: I mean Mr. Chilling- 
worth's Religion of Protestants, and Dr. Jer. Tay- 
lo? % 's Liberty of Prophesying. In a word, it may be 
truly said to be the storehouse from whence all who 
have since written popularly on the character of the 
Fathers , have derived their materials." 

Deeply impressed with the sound views taken by 
the acute and learned Bishop, and believing that this 
work may be very useful in this age of the Church, 
when the simple doctrines of our most holy religion 
bid fair to be made of none effect by tradition, the 
Editor ventures to introduce it, in a corrected and 
amended state, to the notice of the public. 

Jean Daille, one of the most learned divines of the 
seventeenth century, was born at Chatelleraut, in Poi- 
tou, January 6th, 1594. Having been designed by 
his father, who was receiver of the consignments at 
Poitiers, to succeed him in his business, his early edu- 
cation was neglected ; but his natural thirst for learn- 
ing could not be restrained, and at the age of eleven, 
he was sent to school to learn the first rudiments. 
Close application, assisted by a good understanding, 
soon enabled him to retrieve the lost time ; and when 
only eighteen years of age he was received into the 
family of the illustrious M. Du Plessis Mornay, as 
tutor to his two grandsons, whom he accompanied 
some years after in a tour to Italy. One of the bro- 
thers dying at Padua, he travelled with his remaining 
pupil through Switzerland, Germany, Flanders, and 
Holland; and thence to England — returning to France 
about the end of the year 1621. He always in after 
life regretted the two years spent in travelling, which 
he reckoned almost as lost, because he might have 
spent them more usefully in his closet; the only ad- 
vantage he received being the acquaintance of Father 
Paul at Venice, to whom he had been recommended 
by M. Du Plessis. He was called to the ministry in 
1623, and officiated first in the house of his patron, 


at whose death, in the November of the same year, 
he was removed to the church of Saumur, and in 1626 
to that of Paris. The remainder of his life was spent 
in the service of this last church. He died in 1670, 
aged 77 years. 

Daille's early love of learning continued through 
life. We read of him, "that his books and studies 
were his chief recreation and delight. He rose very 
early, and by that means had five or six hours free 
from the common hurry of life which he could spend 
in his closet."* The daily husbanding of so many 
hours through a long life — and those hours devoted 
to reading and meditation — enabled him to acquire so 
extraordinary a stock of learning, that he was con- 
sidered one of the best read men of his age. 

What is recorded of Pliny might be truly said of 
Daille — " he read nothing without making extracts, 
for he was wont to say, that no book was so bad, that 
he could not gain some profit from it." 

In 1631 he published his first work, "Du Vrai 
Emploi des Peres." This performance excited con- 
siderable attention and controversy, and has generally 
been considered his master-piece. It contains a very 
strong chain of arguments, which form a moral de- 
monstration against those who would have differences 
of religion to be decided by the authority of the 

An English translation of this work appeared in 
1651, which has usually been attributed to the learned 
Thomas Smith, M. A., Fellow of Christ's College, 
Cambridge ; although from a remark which appears 
in the preface to that edition, under the signature of 
T. S., "that he commended it to the world, as faith- 
fully translated by a judicious hand," we might infer 
that the translation was merely submitted to his edi- 
torial revision ; or probably he undertook the transla- 
tion jointly with others. M. Mettayer however, who 
only four years after published a Latin translation of 

* Abrege de la Vie de Daille. 
t Enc. Brit. 


the work, says, in the dedication to Daille, that Smith 
himself was the translator of the English edition;* thus 
contradicting the assertion of Scrivener, "that Mr. 
Smith had told him that the translation was not made 
by himself, but by an Oxford man, and that he him- 
self would have confuted the work if he had thought 
it worth the while."t Now Smith, in his address to 
the reader, after introducing the recommendatory tes- 
timonies of Lord Falkland, Lord Dig by, Bishop 
Jeremy Taylor, and others, says, " Et siquis cuculo 
locus inter oscines, I must ingenuously profess, that 
it was the reading of this rational book which first 
convinced me that my study in the French language 
was not ill employed." The truth is, that Scrivener 
wished to excite a prejudice against Dailies work, in 
answer to which he was writing his "Apology for 
the Fathers;" and in his preface he made the above- 
mentioned assertion of the English translation by 
Smith. Lord Clarendon however, in his answer to 
Cressy, shows what degree of credit is to be attached 
to the statements of Scrivener; and the learned Du 
Moulin, in his "Patronus bonse fidei in causa Puritano- 
rum contra Hierarchos Anglos," inflicts a severe 
chastisement on Daille's semi-papistical opponent. 

It may here be observed, that although a simple 
reprint of this standard work would have been desi- 
rable, it has been thought advisable to alter and 
amend the translation, the language of which was 
frequently obscure, and had become too antiquated 
and obsolete for modern times. The notes have been 
re-arranged, and the typography modernized; so as 

* Note by the American Editor. — Mettayer does not assert " that 
Smith himself was the translator." His words are, " Accepi hoc 
ipsum opus ab ornatissimo viro Thos. Smith in Anglicum idioma 
translatum ;" which amounts to nothing more than a mere hearsay. 

In a copy of the English Edition of 1651, now in the Loganian 
Library in Philadelphia, a note on the title page, in the hand-writing 
of the learned James Logan, says, " Translated (as some say) by 
Thos. Smith of Oxford; but undoubtedly it was not he, though he 
seems to have signed the preface " T. S. n 

f Scriveneri Apol. pro Sanctse Eccles. Pat. London 1672. 

PREFACE. , 15 

to render the reading of the volume more pleasant and 

The Editor thinks he shall be promoting the best 
interests of the Church, by the republication of a work 
which did her good service when attacked by her 
enemies from without, and which he believes to be 
eminently calculated to serve her now, when her 
foundations are being sapped by some of her sons 
from within. To conclude, in the words of Bishop 
Hurd, "May the eyes of the more candid and 
intelligent inquirers be opened, and the old 
principle be for ever established, that the 
Bible, and that only (interpreted by our best 
reason) is the Religion of Protestants."* 

* Bishop Hurd on Froph. vol. ii. p. 217. 

This first American edition has been care- 
fully compared with the French original, and occa- 
sionally with the Latin translation, and several hun- 
dred errors, both typographical and editorial, have 
been corrected. 


All the difference in religion, which is at this day 
between the Church of Rome and the Protestants, 
lies in some certain points which the Church of Rome 
maintains as important and necessary articles of the 
Christian faith : whereas the Protestants, on the con- 
trary, neither believe nor will receive them for such. 
For as for those matters which the Protestants believe, 
which they conceive to be the fundamentals of reli- 
gion, they are evidently and undeniably such, that 
even their enemies admit and receive them as well as 
they : inasmuch as they are both clearly delivered in 
the Scriptures, and expressly admitted by the ancient 
councils and Fathers; and are indeed unanimously 
received by the greatest part of Christians in all ages, 
and in different parts of the world. Such, for exam- 
ple, are the maxims, "That there is a God who is 
supreme over all, and who created the heavens and 
the earth: — that he created man after his own image; 
and that this man, revolting from his obedience, is 
fallen, together with his whole posterity, into most 
extreme and eternal misery, and become infected with 
sin, as with a mortal leprosy, and is therefore obnox- 
ious to the wrath of God, and liable to his curse : — 
that the merciful Creator, pitying man's estate, graci- 
ously sent his Son Jesus Christ into the world : — that 
his Son is God eternal with him; and that having 
taken flesh upon himself in the womb of the Virgin 
Mary, and become man, he has done and suffered in 
this flesh all things necessary for our salvation, hav- 
ing by this means sufficiently expiated for our sins by 
his blood ; and that having finished all this, he ascend- 
ed again into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand 
of the Father; from whence he shall one day come to 

author's preface. 17 

judge all mankind, rendering to every one according 
to their works; — that to enable us to communicate 
of this salvation by his merits, he sends us down his 
Holy Spirit, proceeding both from the Father and the 
Son, and who is also one and the same God with 
them; so that these three persons are notwithstanding 
but one God, who is blessed for ever; — that this Spirit 
enlightens our understanding, and generates faith in us, 
whereby we are justified: — that after all this, the Lord 
sent his Apostles to preach this doctrine of salvation 
throughout the whole world : — that these have planted 
churches, and placed in each of them pastors and 
teachers, whom we are to hear with all reverence, and 
to receive from them Baptism, the sacrament of our 
regeneration, and the holy Eucharist, or Lord's Sup- 
per, which is the sacrament of our communion with 
Jesus Christ : — that we are likewise all of us bound 
fervently to love God and our neighbour; observing 
diligently that holy doctrine which is laid down for 
us in the books of the New Testament, which have 
been inspired by his Spirit of truth; as also those 
other of the Old; there being nothing, either in the 
one or in the other, but what is most true. 

These articles, and there may be some few others 
of a similar nature, are the substance of the Protes- 
tant's whole belief: and if all other Christians would 
but content themselves with these, there would never 
be any schism in the Church. But now their adver- 
saries add to these many other points, which they 
press and command men to believe as necessary; and 
such as, without believing in, there is no possible 
hope of salvation. As for example : that the Pope of 
Rome is the head and supreme monarch of the whole 
Christian Church throughout the world : — that he, or 
at least the church which he acknowledges a true 
one, cannot possibly err in matters of faith : — that the 
sacrament of the Eucharist is to be adored, as being 
really Jesus Christ, and not a piece of bread: — that 
the mass is a sacrifice, that really expiates the sins of 
the faithful : — that Christians may and ought to have 
in their churches the images of God and of saints, to 

18 author's preface. 

which, bowing down before them, they are to use 
religious worship : — that it is lawful, and also very- 
useful, to pray to saints departed and to angels : — that 
our souls after death, before they enter into heaven, 
are to pass through a certain fire, and there to endure 
grievous torments ; thus making atonement for their 
sins : — that we neither may nor ought to receive the 
holy Eucharist, without having first confessed in pri- 
vate to a priest: — that none but the priest himself 
that consecrated the Eucharist is bound by right to 
receive it in both kinds: — with a great number of 
other opinions, which their adversaries plainly protest 
that they cannot with a safe conscience believe. 

These points are the ground of the whole difference 
between them; the one party pretending that they 
have been believed and received by the Church of 
Christ in all ages as revealed by him; and the other 
maintaining the contrary. 

Now, seeing that none of these tenets have any 
ground from any passage in the New Testament, 
(which is the most ancient and authentic rule of 
Christianity) the maintainers are glad to fly to the 
writings of the doctors of the Church, who lived 
within the first four or five centuries after the Apos- 
tles, who are commonly called the Fathers: my pur- 
pose in this treatise is to examine whether or not this 
be good and sufficient means for the decision of these 
differences. For this purpose I must first presuppose 
two things, which any reasonable person will easily 
grant me. The first is, that the question being here 
about laying a foundation for certain articles of faith, 
upon the testimonies or opinions of the Fathers, it 
is very necessary that the passages which are pro- 
duced out of them be clear, and not to be doubted; 
that is to say, such as we cannot reasonably scruple 
at, either as regards the author, out of whom they are 
alleged ; or the sense of the place, whether it signify 
what is pretended. For a deposition of a witness, 
and the sentence of a judge, being of no value at all, 
save only for the reputation of the witness or judge, 
it is most evident, that if either proceed from persons 


unknown, or suspected, they are invalid, and prove 
nothing. In like manner, if the deposition of a wit- 
ness or sentence of a judge be obscure, and in doubt- 
ful terms, it is clear, that in this case the business 
must rest undecided ; there being another doubt first 
to be cleared, namely, what the meaning of either of 
them was. The second point that I shall here lay 
down for a foundation to the ensuing discourse, is no 
less evident than the former: namely, that to allow a 
sufficiency to the writings of the Fathers for the de- 
ciding of those controversies, we must necessarily 
attribute to their persons very great authority; and 
such as may oblige us to follow their judgment in 
matters of religion. For if this authority be wanting, 
however clear and express their opinions be, in the 
articles now controverted, it will do nothing towards 
their decision. We have therefore here two things to 
examine in this business. The first is, whether or not 
we may be able to know, with certainty and clear- 
ness, what the opinion of the Fathers has been on the 
differences now in hand. The second, whether their 
authority be such, that every faithful person who shall 
clearly and certainly know what their opinion has 
been in any one article of Christian religion, is thereby 
bound to receive that article for true. For if the 
Church of Rome be but able to prove both these points, 
it is then without all dispute that their proceeding is 
good, and agreeable to the end proposed; there being 
so many writings of the ancient Fathers at this day 
adduced by them. But if, on the contrary, either of 
these two things, or both of them, be indeed found to 
be doubtful, I should think that any man, of a very 
mean judgment, should be able to conclude of him- 
self, that this way of proof, which they have hitherto 
made use of, is very insufficient; and that therefore 
they of necessity ought to have recourse to some other 
more proper and solid way of proving the truth 
of the said opinions, which the Protestants will not 
by any means receive. 




Madam : — It is now nearly four years since your son, 
the late Baron of St. Hermine, acquainted me with 
what kind of discourse he was usually entertained at 
court by those who laboured to advance the Romish 
religion, rather to excite his disgust against the Re- 
formed; and told me that the chief argument which 
they urged against him was Antiquity, and the Gene- 
rat Consent of all the Fathers of the first ages of 
Christianity. Although he himself understood well 
enough the vanity of this argument of theirs, yet, not- 
withstanding, for his own fuller satisfaction, he re- 
quested that I would discover to him the very depth 
of this matter. This therefore I did, as minutely as I 
possibly could, and gave him my judgment at large 
in this particular. This treatise of mine he was 
pleased so much to approve, that he conceived some 
hopes from thence, that it might also haply be of 
use to others. 

Shortly afterwards I put pen to paper, and digested 
it into the treatise you now see. It having therefore 
been composed at first for his service, I had resolved 
also with myself to have dedicated it to his name; 
purporting, by this small piece of service, to testify to 
the world the continuation of the affection I bare to 
his progress in piety. But that deadly blow which 
snatched him from us in the flower of his age, about 
two years since, at the famous siege of Boisleduc, 
having left us nothing of him now, save only the 
spoils of his mortality, and the memory of his virtue, 
together with our great sorrow for having enjoyed him 


here so short a time, I am constrained, Madam, to 
change my former resolution. I shall therefore con- 
tent myself with cherishing and preserving, whilst I 
live, the precious memory of his worth, the excellency 
of his wit, the soundness of his judgment, the sweet- 
ness of his nature, the fairness of his carriage, and 
those other choice parts, wherewith he was accom- 
plished; but, above all, his singular piety, which 
clearly shone forth in his words and actions, till the 
hour of his death. 

As for this small treatise, Madam, which was at 
first conceived and composed for him, I thought I 
could not, without being guilty of a piece of injustice, 
present it to any other but yourself: seeing it has 
pleased God, notwithstanding the common order of 
nature, to make you heir to him to whom it belonged* 
This consideration only has emboldened me to present 
it to your hands; knowing that the nature of this dis- 
course is not so suitable to that sorrow which has of 
late cast a cloud over your house; it having pleased 
God, after the death of the son, to deprive you of the 
father; and to the loss of your children, to add that 
also of your noble husband. But my desire to avoid 
being unjust has forced me to be thus uncivilly trou- 
blesome : seeing I accounted it a kind of theft, should 
I have any longer withheld from you that which was 
your right, by this sad title of inheritance. Be pleased 
therefore, Madam, to receive this book as a part of 
the goods of your deceased son; which I now hon- 
estly restore, in the view of the whole world, after 
concealment of it for some time in my study. This 
name, I know, will oblige you to afford it some place 
in your closet, which is all that I can at present desire. 
For as for the reading of it, besides that your exqui- 
site piety (which is built upon infinitely much firmer 
grounds than these disputes,) has no need at all of it; 
I know also that your present condition is such, that 
it would be very troublesome to you. And if you 
shall chance to desire to spend some hours in the 
perusal of it, it must be hereafter, when the Lord, by 
the efficacy of his Spirit, shall have comforted yours, 



and shall have allayed the violence of your grief; to 
whom I pour out my most earnest prayers, that he 
would vouchsafe powerfully to effect the same, and 
to shed forth his most holy grace upon you and yours; 
and that he would by his great mercy preserve, long 
and happily, that which remains of that goodly and 
blessed family, which he has bestowed upon you. 

This, Madam, is one of the most hearty prayers of 

Your most humble 

And obedient servant, 


Paris, Jlugust 15, 1631. 





Reason I. — On the difficulty of ascertaining the opinions of the Fathers 
in reference to the present controversies in religion, deduced from 
the fact that there is very little of their writings extant of the first 
three centuries. 

If we should here follow the same course of argu- 
ment, which some writers of the Church of Rome 
pursue against the Holy Scriptures, it would be very 
easy to bring in question, and render very doubtful 
and suspected, all the writings of the Fathers; for when 
the Old or New Testament is quoted, these gentlemen 
instantly demand, how or by what means we know 
that any such books were really written by those pro- 
phets and apostles whose names they bear? If there- 
fore, in like manner, when these men adduce Justin, 
Irenseus, Ambrose, Augustine, and others, we should 
at once demand of them, how and by what means we 
are assured that these Fathers were the authors of 
those writings which at this day bear their names, 
there is little doubt but that they would find a harder 
task of it than their adversaries would, in justifying 
the writings of the sacred volume ; the truth whereof 
is much more easy to be demonstrated than of any 
human writings whatsoever. But I shall pass by 
this too artificial way of proceeding, and only say, 
that it is not very easy to find out, by the writings of 


the Fathers, what has really been their opinion, in any 
of those controversies which are now in dispute be- 
tween the Protestants and the Church of Rome. The 
considerations, which render the knowledge of this so 
difficult, are many ; I shall therefore, in this first Part, 
discuss some of them only, referring the rest to the 
second Part, examining them one after another. 

The first reason, therefore, which I shall lay down 
for the proving of this difficulty, is the little we have 
extant of the writings of the ancient Fathers, especial- 
ly of the first, second, and third centuries; which are 
those we are most especially to regard. For, seeing 
that one of the principal reasons that moves the Church 
of Rome to adduce the writings of the Fathers, is to 
show the truth of their tenets by their antiquity, which 
they consider as indicative of it; it is evident that the 
most ancient ought to be the most noticed. And 
indeed there is no question but that the Christian 
religion was more pure and without mixture in its 
beginning and infancy, than it was afterwards in its 
growth and progress : it being the ordinary course of 
things to contract corruptions, more or less, according 
as they are more or less removed from their first 
institution: as we see by experience instates, laws, 
arts, and languages, the natural propriety of all which 
is continually declining, after they have once passed 
the point of their vigour, and as it were the flower 
and prime of their strength and perfection. Now, I 
cannot believe that any faithful Christian will deny 
but that Christianity was in its zenith and perfection 
at the time of the blessed Apostles; and indeed it 
would be the greatest injury that could be offered 
them, to say that any of their successors have either 
had a greater desire or more abilities to advance 
Christianity than they had. It will hence follow then, 
that those times which were nearest to the Apostles 
were necessarily the purest, and less subject to suspi- 
cion of corruption, either in doctrine, or in manners 
and Christian discipline: it being but reasonable to 
believe, that if any corruptions have crept into the 
Church, they came in by little and little, and by degrees, 


as it happens in all other things. Some may here ob- 
ject, that even the very next age, immediately after the 
times of the Apostles, was not without its errors, if 
we may believe Hegesippus; who, as he is cited by 
Eusebius, witnesses, that the Church continued a 
virgin till the emperor Trajan's time; but that after 
the death of the Apostles the conspiracy of error be- 
gan to discover itself with open face:* 

I shall not oppose any thing against this testimony, 
but shall only say, that if the enemy, immediately 
upon the setting of these stars of the Church, their 
presence and light being scarcely shut in, had yet the 
boldness presently to fall to sowing his evil seed; how 
much more had he the opportunity of doing this in 
those ages which were further removed from their 
times; when (the sanctity and simplicity of these 
great teachers of the world, having now by little and 
little vanished out of the memories of men) human, 
inventions and new fancies began to take place ? So 
that we may conclude that even supposing the first 
ages of Christianity have not been altogether exempt 
from alteration in doctrine, yet are they much more 
free from it than the succeeding ages can pretend to 
be, and are therefore consequently to be preferred to 
them in all respects; it being here something like what 
the poets have fancied of the four ages of the world, 
where the succeeding age always came short of the 
former. As for the opinion of those ment who think 
the best way to find out the true sense of the ancient 
Church, will be to search the writings of those of the 
Fathers chiefly who lived between" the time of Con- 
stantine the Great and Pope Leo, or Pope Gregory's 
time, (that is to say, from the end of the third cen- 
tury to the beginning of the seventh,) I consider this 

* 'He ap& ^XP l <TaV rco<ri XP ClVa ' V TfX-favOS K!tQx.f>* H.X.I aS'lX.QQopOS ijUWeV J) 
IkkKSKTISL) &C. w? f Upog TOdV a7ro<r<TQk(ev X°? 0I > <^t , °P°V UXtKpZi <rou filOU TSAO?, 
7TCtf>iXHXvQil <Ti W ym*. IKilVH VW AUTXig 6.K0CLIC ths hQzou CTOtytcLS i7ra.X.CUOSLl 
KClTH^tOD/tAiVCOV) TMlKClUTd. <T»; dQiOV 7TXXVHS T»V apX* V **■*■&&&& * OVO-<TSLTie &.CL 

vw; tcov lTif>G£i<fx.<r)LX.X6ov dottrot, ol km <xts /utiSivos st; to>v fordo-raxm \th 

TTQfJLMV) yUJUVH X r jt7TCV HeTtf T» XiqiXil Tfl> T»C aXU^ilSL? KHQvy/UOLTl T/JV ^ivfce- 

vv/uov yva<riv d.vTix.npvr'Tziv im%jupGvv. — Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. 3,cap. 32. 
t Cassand. Consult. Ferdinan. p. 894. Perron. Epist. to Casaub. 



as an admission only of the small number of books 
that are left us of those ages before Constantine, and 
not that these men allow that the authority of these 
three later ages ought to be preferred to that of the 
three former. 

If we had but as much light and as clear evidences 
of the belief of the one as we have of the other, I 
make no question but they would prefer the former. 
But if they mean otherwise, and are indeed of a per- 
suasion that the Church was really more pure after 
Constantine's time than before, they must excuse me, 
if I think that they by this means confess the distrust 
they have of their own cause, seeing that they endea- 
vour to fly as far as they can from the light of the 
primitive times ; retreating to those ages, wherein it 
is most evident there were both less perfection and 
light than before ; running altogether contrary to that 
excellent rule which Cyprian has given us:* That we 
should have recourse to the fountain, whenever the 
channel and stream of doctrine and ecclesiastical tra- 
dition are found to be the least corrupted. But, how- 
ever, let their meaning be what it will, their words, 
in my judgment, do not a little advance the Protes- 
tants' cause ; it being a very clear confession that those 
opinions, about which they contest with them, do not 
at all appear clearly in any of the books that were 
written during the first three centuries. For if they 
were found clearly in the same, what policy were it 
then in them to appeal to the writers of the three fol- 
lowing centuries, to which they very well know that 
their adversaries attribute less than to the former? 
But besides this tacit confession of theirs the thing is 
evident; namely, that there is left us at this day very 
little of the writings of the Fathers of the first three 
centuries of Christianity for the deciding of our dif- 

The blessed Christians of those times contented 

themselves, for the greatest part, with writing the 

Christian faith in the hearts of men, by the beams of 

their sanctity and holy life, and by the blood shed in 

* Gypr. ep. 74. p. 195. 


martyrdom, without much troubling themselves with 
the writing of books; whether it were because, as the 
learned Origen* elegantly gives the reason, they were 
of opinion that the Christian religion was to be de- 
fended by the innocency of life and honesty of con- 
versation, rather than by sophistry and the artifice of 
words : or whether, because their continual sufferings 
gave them not leisure to take pen in hand and to write 
books; or else, whether it were for some other rea- 
son perhaps, which we know not. But of this we 
are very well assured, that, except the writings of the 
Apostles, there was very little written by others in 
these primitive times ; and this was the cause of so 
much trouble to Eusebius in the beginning of his his- 
tory, who had little or no light to guide him in his 
undertaking ; treading, as he saith, " in a new path, 
unbeaten by any that had gone before him."t 

Besides, the greatest part of those few books which 
were written by the Christians of those times, have 
not come down to our hands, but were lost, either 
through the injury of time, that consumes all things; 
or else have been destroyed by the malice of men, 
who have made bold to suppress whatsoever they 
met with that was not altogether to their taste. Of 
this sort were those five books of Papias bishop of 
Hierapolis, the apology of Quadratus Atheniensis, 
and that other of Aristides, the writings of Castor 
Agrippa against the twenty-four books of the heretic 
Basilides, the five books of Hegesippus, the works of 
Melito bishop of Sardis, Dionysius bishop of Corinth, 
Apollinaris bishop of Hierapolis, the epistle of Piny- 
tus Cretensis, the writings of Philippus, Musanus, 
Modestus, Bardesanes, Pantsenus, Rhodon, Miltiades, 
Apollonius, Serapion, Bacchylus, Polycrates bishop 
of Ephesus, Heraclius, Maximus, Hammonius, Try- 
phon, Hippolytus, Julius Africanus, Dionysius Alex- 
andrinus, and others; of whom we have nothing left 
but their names and the titles of their books, which 

* Orig. Praef. Operis contra. Cels. p. 1, 2. 

t Olet riv* tpnpuiv km arpifin Uvat ocTov ly^iipcv/uiv. — Euseb. Hist. Ec- 
cles. 1. 1. c. 1. 


are preserved in the works of Eusebius, Jerome, and 
others.* All that we have left us of these times, 
which is certainly known to be theirs, and of which 
no man doubts, are some certain discourses of Justin, 
the philosopher and martyr, who wrote his second 
apology a hundred and fifty years after the nativity 
of our Saviour Christ ; the five books of Irenseus, who 
wrote not long after him; three excellent and learned 
pieces of Clemens Alexandrinus, who lived towards 
the end of the second century; divers books of Ter- 
tullian, who was famous about the same time; the 
epistles and other treatises of Cyprian bishop of Car- 
thage, who suffered martyrdom about the year of our 
Saviour 261 ; the writings of Arnobius, and of Lactan- 
tius his scholar, and some few others. As for Origen, 
Cyprian's contemporary — who alone, had we but all 
his writings entire, would be able perhaps to give us 
more light and satisfaction in the business we are now 
engaged in than all the rest — we have but very little 
of him left, and the greatest part of that too most 
miserably abused and corrupted; the most learned 
and almost innumerable writings of this great and in- 
comparable person not being able to withstand the 
ravages of time, nor the envy and malice of men, 
who have dealt much worse with him, than so many 
ages and centuries of years that have passed from his 
time down to us. 

Thus have I given you an account of well nigh all 
that we have left us, which is certainly known to 
have been written by the Fathers of the first three 
centuries. For as for those other pieces, which are 
pretended to have been written in the same times, but 
are indeed either confessed to be supposititious by the 
Romanists themselves, or are rejected by their adver- 
saries, and that upon very good and probable grounds ; 
these cannot have any place or account here, in eluci- 
dating the controversy we have now in hand. 

The writings of the fourth and fifth centuries have, 
I confess, surpassed the former in number and good 

* Hieron, 1. de Scriptor. &c. Euseb. in hist, passim. Tertul. ali- 
quorum meminit. 


fortune too; the greatest part of them having been 
transmitted safely to our hands; but they come much 
short of the other in weight and authority, especially 
in the judgment of the Protestants, who maintain, 
and that upon very probable grounds, that the Chris- 
tian religion has from the beginning had its declinings 
by little and little, losing in every age some certain 
degree of its' primitive and native purity. And be- 
sides, we have good reason perhaps to fear lest the 
number of writers of these two ages trouble us as 
much as the paucity of them in the three preceding: 
and that, as before we suffered under scarcity, we 
now may be overwhelmed by their multitude. For 
the number of words and of books serves as much 
sometimes to the suppressing of the sense and opinion 
of any public body, as silence itself; our minds being 
then extremely confounded and perplexed, while it 
labours to comprehend what is the true and common 
opinion of the whole, amidst so many differently 
biassed details, whereof each endeavours to express 
the same ; it being most certain, that amongst so great 
and almost infinite variety of spirits and tongues, you 
shall hardly ever meet with two persons that shall 
deliver to you one and the same opinion, (especially 
in matters of so high a nature as the controversies in 
religion,) after the same form and way of representa- 
tion, how unanimous soever their consent may other- 
wise be in the same opinion. And this variety, 
although it be but in the circumstances of the thing, 
makes, notwithstanding, the foundation itself also ap- 
pear different. 


Reason II. — Those writings which we have of the Fathers of the first 
centuries, treat of matters far different from the present controversies 
in religion. 

But suppose that neither the want of books in the 
first three centuries, nor yet the abundance of them 


in the three following, should produce these inconve- 
niences ; it will nevertheless be very hard to discover 
from them what the opinion of their authors has been 
concerning those points of the Christian religion now 
controverted. For the matters whereof they treat are 
of a very different nature ; these authors, according 
as the necessity of the times required, employing them- 
selves either in justifying the Christian religion, and 
vindicating it from the aspersion of such crimes, where- 
with it was most falsely and injuriously charged; or 
else in laying open to the world the absurdity and 
impiety of Paganism; or in convincing the hard- 
hearted Jews, or in confuting the prodigious fooleries 
of the heretics of those times; or in exhortations to 
the faithful to patience and martyrdom; or in expound- 
ing some certain passages and portions of the Holy 
Scripture : all which things have very little concern 
with the controversies of these times; of which they 
never speak a syllable, unless they accidentally or by 
chance let a word drop from them toward this side 
or that side, yet without the least thought of us or of 
our controversies; although both the one and the other 
party sometimes light upon passages, wherein they 
conceive they have discovered their own opinions 
clearly delivered, though in vain for the most part, 
and without ground: precisely as he did, who on 
hearing the ringing of bells, thought they perfectly 
sounded out what he in his own thoughts had fancied. 
Justin Martyr and Tertullian, Theophilus and Lac- 
tantius, Clemens and Arnobius, show the heathen the 
vainness of their religion, and of their gods; and that 
Jupiter and Juno were but mortals, and that there is 
but one only God, the Creator of heaven and earth. 
Irenaeus bends his whole forces against the monstrous 
opinions of Basilides, the Valentinians, and other Gnos- 
tics, who were the inventors of the most chimerical 
divinity that ever came into the fancy of man. Ter- 
tullian also lashes them, as they well deserve; but 
he especially takes Marcion, Hermogenes, Apelles, 
Praxeas, and others to task, who maintained that there 
were two Gods, or two principles, and confounded 


the persons of the Father and the Son. Cyprian is 
wholly upon the discipline and the virtues of the 
Christian Church. Arius, Macedonius, Eunomius, 
Photinus, Pelagius, and afterwards Nestorius and 
Eutyches, made work for the Fathers of the fourth 
and fifth centuries. 

The blasphemies of these men against the person 
or the natures of our Saviour Christ, or against the 
Holy Ghost and his grace, which have now of a long 
time lain buried and forgotten, were the matters con- 
troverted in those times, and the subject of the greatest 
part of the books then written, that have come to our 
hands. What relation has any thing of all this to the 
doctrines of transubstantiation, and the adoration of 
the eucharist, or the monarchy of the Pope, or the 
necessity of auricular confession, or the worshipping 
of images, and similar points, which are those of the 
present controversies, and which none of the ancients 
have treated expressly and by design, or perhaps 
ever so much as thought of? It is very true indeed, 
that the silence of these Fathers in these points, which 
some set so much value by, is not wholly mute, and 
perhaps also it may pass for a very clear testimony, 
but certainly not on their side who maintain them 
affirmatively. But, however, this is a most certain 
truth, that throughout the whole body of the genuine 
writings of these Fathers, you shall not meet with 
any thing expressly urged either for or against the 
greatest part of these opinions. I shall most willingly 
confess, that the belief of every wise man makes up 
but one entire body, the parts whereof have a certain 
correspondence and relation to each other, to such a 
degree that a man may be able by those things which 
he delivers expressly, to give a guess what his opinion 
is concerning other things of which he says nothing; 
it being utterly improbable that he should maintain 
any position which shall manifestly clash with his 
other tenets, or that he should reject any thing that 
necessarily follows upon them. But, besides, this 
manner of disputation presupposes that the belief of 
the ancient Fathers is uniform, no one position con- 


tradicting another, but having all its parts united, and 
depending one upon another, which indeed is very 
questionable, as we shall show elsewhere. Besides 
all this, I say it requires a quick discernment, which 
readily and clearly apprehends the connexions of each 
distinct point, an excellent memory to retain faithfully 
whatever positions the ancients have maintained, and 
a solid judgment free from all pre-occupation, to com- 
pare them with the tenets maintained at this day. 
And the man who is endued with all these qualities 
I shall account the fittest to make profitable use of 
the writings of the Fathers, and the likeliest of any 
to search deeply into them. But the mischief is, that 
men so qualified are very rare and difficult to be found. 
I shall add here, that if you will believe certain 
writers of the Church of Rome,* this method is vain 
and useless, as is also that which makes use of argu- 
mentation and reason; means which are insufficient, 
and unable (in the judgment of these doctors) to arrive 
at any certainty, especially in matters of religion. 
Their opinion is, that we are to rely upon clear and 
express texts only. Thus, according to this account, 
we shall not, if we be wise, believe that the Fathers 
held any of the aforenamed points, unless we can find 
them in express terms in their writings; that is to say, 
in the very same terms that we read them in the 
decrees and canons of the Council of Trent. Seeing 
then that, according to the opinion of these men, those 
testimonies only are to be received which are express, 
and likewise that of these points now controverted 
there is scarcely any thing found expressly delivered 
by the Fathers, we may, in my opinion, very logically 
and reasonably conclude, that it is at least a very diffi- 
cult if not impossible thing (according to these men) 
to come to the certain knowledge of the opinion of 
the ancients concerning the greatest part of the tenets 
of the Church of Rome, which are at this day rejected 
by the Protestants. 

* Gontery, Veron, and others. 



Reason III. — Those writings which bear the names of the ancient Fa- 
thers, are not all really such ; but a great portion of them suppositi- 
tious, and forged, either long since or at later periods. 

I now enter upon more important considerations; the 
two former, though they are not in themselves to be 
despised or neglected, being yet but trivial ones com- 
pared with those which follow. For there is so great a 
confusion in the most part of these books of which we 
speak, that it is a very difficult thing truly to discover 
who were their authors, and what is their meaning 
and sense. The first difficulty proceeds from the infi- 
nite number of forged books, which are falsely attri- 
buted to the ancient Fathers; the same having also 
happened in all kinds of learning and sciences; inso- 
much that the learned at this day are sufficiently 
puzzled to discover, both in philosophy and humanity, 
which are forged and supposititious pieces, and which 
are true and legitimate. But this abuse has not existed 
any where more grossly, and taken to itself more 
liberty, than in the ecclesiastical writers. All men 
complain of this, both on the one side and on the other, 
and labour to their utmost to deliver us from this con- 
fusion, oftentimes with little success, by reason of the 
warmth of their feelings by which they are carried 
away; ordinarily judging of books according to their 
own interest rather than the truth, and rejecting all 
those that any way contradict them, but defending 
those which speak on their side ; how good or bad 
soever they otherwise chance to be. So that, to say 
the truth, they judge not of their own opinions by 
the writings of the Fathers, but of the writings of the 
Fathers by their own opinions. If they speak with 
us, it is then Cyprian and Chrysostom; if not, it is 
some ignorant modern fellow, or else some malicious 
person, who would fain cover his own impurity under 
the rich garment of these excellent persons. 


Now, were it mere partiality that rendered the busi- 
ness obscure, we should be able to quit our hands of 
it, by stripping it and laying it open to the world; and 
all moderate men would find enough to rest satisfied 
with. But the worst of it is, that this obscurity often- 
times happens to be in the things themselves ; so that 
it is a very difficult and sometimes impossible thing to 
elucidate them, whether it be by reason of the anti- 
quity of the error, or by reason of the near resem- 
blance of the false to the true. For these forgeries 
are not new, and of yesterday ; but the abuse has ex- 
isted above fourteen hundred years. It is the com- 
plaint of the greatest part of the Fathers, that the 
heretics, to give their own dreams the greater authori- 
ty, promulgated them under the names of some of the 
most eminent writers in the Church, and even of the 
Apostles themselves.* Amphilochius bishop of Ico- 
nium, who was so much esteemed by the great Basil 
archbishop of Csesarea, wrote a particular tract on this 
subject,! alleged by the Fathers of the seventh coun- 
cil against a certain passage produced by the Icono- 
clasts out of I know not what idle treatise, intitled, 
" The Travels of the Apostles.'' And I would that 
that Tract of this learned prelate were now extant ! 
If it were, it would perhaps do us good service in dis- 
covering the vanity of many ridiculous pieces, which 
now pass current in the world under the names of the 
primitive and most ancient Christians. Jerome re- 
jects divers apocryphal books, J which are published 
under the names of the Apostles, and of their first 
disciples; as those of St. Peter, of Barnabas, and 
others. The gospel of St. Thomas, and the epistle to 
the Laodiceans, are classed in the same category by 
the seventh council. § 

Now, if these knaves have thus taken such liberty 
with the Apostles as to make use of their names; how 
much more likely is it, that they would not hesitate 

* Hegesippus apud Euseb. 1. 4. c. 22. 

t Concil. 7. Act. 5. torn. 3. p. 552. 

t Hier. 1. de scrip. Eccles. torn. 1. p. 346, et 350. 

§ Concil. 7. Act. 6. 


to make as free with the Fathers? And indeed this 
kind of imposture has alway been common. Thus 
we read that the Nestorians sometime published an 
epistle under the name of Cyril of Alexandria,* in the 
defence of Theodoras bishop of Mopsuestia, who was 
the author and first broacher of their heresy: and 
likewise that the Eutychists also circulated certain 
books of Apollinaris, under the title of " The Ortho- 
dox Doctors," namely, to impose on the simplicity of 
the people.! Leontius has written an express Tract 
on this subject; J wherein he shows that these men 
abused particularly the names of Gregory of Neocse- 
sarea, of Julius bishop of Rome, and of Athanasius 
bishop of Alexandria; and he also says particularly, 
that the book intitled, 'H xata ix*po$ noans (A parti- 
cular Exposition of the Faith,) which is delivered to 
us by Turrianus the Jesuit, G erardus Vossius, and the 
last edition of Gregorius Neocaesariensis, for a true 
and legitimate piece of the said Gregory § is not truly 
his, but the bastard issue of the heretic Apollinaris. 
The like judgment do the publishers of the Bibliothe- 
ca Patrum give of the twelve Anathemas, which 
are commonly attributed to the same Gregory. || The 
Monothelites also, taking the same course, forged an 
oration under the name of Menas patriarch of Con- 
stantinople, and directed to Vigilius bishop of Rome:1T 
and two other books under the name of the same 
Vigilius, directed to Justinian and Theodora; wherein 
their heresy is in express terms delivered; and these 
three pieces were afterwards inserted in the body of 
the fifth counci], and kept in the library of the Pa- 
triarch's palace in Constantinople.** But this impos- 
ture was discovered and proved in the sixth council : 
for otherwise, who would not have been deceived by 
it, seeing these false pieces in so authentic a copy? 

* Concil. 5. Collat. 5. 

t Marian, ep. ad Mon. Alex, ad calcem Concil. Chalc. t. 2. p. 
450. E. 

X Leont. lib. extat Bibl. SS. PP. t. 4. par. 2. 

§ Greg. Thaumat. op. Par. an. 1622, p. 97. ubi vide Voss. 

II Bibl. SS. PP. t. 1. Gr. Lat. 

IT Concil. 6. Act 3. et Act 14. t. 3. Concil. ** Ibid. 


I bring but these few examples, to give the reader 
a sample only of what the heretics not only dared but 
were able also to do in this particular: and all these 
things were done before the end of the seventh cen- 
tury, that is to say, above nine hundred years ago. 
Since which time, in all the disputes about the images 
in churches,* and in the differences betwixt the Greek 
and Latin Churches, and indeed in the most part of 
all other ecclesiastical disputations, you shall find 
nothing more frequent than the mutual reproaches 
that the several parties cast at each other,t accusing 
one another of forging the pieces of authors which 
they produced each of them in defence of their own 
cause. Judge you, therefore, whether or not the here- 
tics, using the same artifice and the same diligence, 
now for the space of so many centuries since, though 
in different causes, may not in all probability have 
furnished us with a sufficient number of spurious 
pieces published under the names of the ancient 
Fathers by their professed enemies. And only con- 
sider whether or no we may not chance to commune 
with a heretic sometimes, when we think we have a 
Father before us ; and a professed enemy disguised 
under the mask of a friend. Thus it will hence follow 
that it may justly be feared, that we sometimes re- 
ceive and deliver for maxims and opinions of the 
ancient church, no better than the mere dreams of the 
ancient heretics. For we must suppose that they were 
not so foolish as to discover their venom at the first, 
in their heretical writings ; but rather that they only 
cunningly infused here and there some sprinklings of 
it, laying the foundation of their heresy as it were a 
far off only; which makes the knavery the more diffi- 
cult to be discovered, and consequently the more dan- 
gerous. But supposing that this juggling deception 
of the heretics may have very much corrupted the 
old books; yet notwithstanding, had we no other 
spurious pieces than what had been forged by them, 
it would be no very hard matter to distinguish the 

* Concil. 7. Act. 6. Refut. Iconoclast, torn. 5. 
t Concil. Florent. Sess. 20. t. 4. 


true from the false. But that which renders the evil 
almost irremediable is, that even in the Church itself 
this kind of forgery has both been very common and 
very ancient. 

I impute a great part of the cause of this mischief 
to those men who, before the invention of printing, 
were the transcribers and copiers of manuscripts: of 
whose negligence and boldness, in the corrupting of 
books, Jerome very much complained even in his 
time : " Scribunt non quod inveniunt, sed quod intelli- 
gunt; et dum alienos errores emendare nituntur, os- 
tendunt suos;"* that is, "they write not what they find 
but what they understand : and whilst they endeavour 
to correct other men's errors they show their own." 

We may very well presume, that the liberty these 
men took in corrupting, they also took the same in 
forging, books: especially since this last course was 
beneficial to them, while the other was not. For, by 
altering or corrupting the books they wrote, they 
could not make any advantage to themselves: where- 
as, in forging new books, and disposing of them under 
great and eminent names, they sold them more readily 
and dearer. So likewise, if there came to their hands 
any book that either had no author's name ; or having 
any, it was but an obscure or a tainted one ; to the 
end that these evil marks might not prejudice the 
selling of it, they would erase it without any more 
ado, and inscribe it with some one of the most emi- 
nent and venerable names in the Church; that thus 
the reputation and favour, which that name had found 
in the world, might be a means for better passing off 
their false wares. As for example, the name of No- 
vatianus, who was the head of a schism against the 
Roman Church, became justly odious to Christian ears : 
as that of Tertullian was the more esteemed, both 
for the age, wit, and learning of the person. Now 
the transcriber, considering this, without any other 
design or end than that of his own private gain, has, 
in my judgment, made an exchange, attributing to 
Tertullian that book of the Trinity which is in reality 

* Hier. Ep. 28. ad Lucin. torn. 1. 


the production of Novatianus; as we are also given 
to understand by Jerome.* And I am of opinion, 
that both the birth and fortune of that other piece, 
" De Poenitentia," have been, if not the very same, 
yet at least not much unlike that of the other. So 
likewise the book, entitled " De Operibus Cardinali- 
bus Christi/'t (which was composed and sent by its 
author to one of the Popes, without giving his name, 
as he there testifies,) has been circulated abroad under 
the name of Cyprian, merely because by this means 
it was the more profitable to the manuscript-monger; 
and has always passed, and does pass, for his: not- 
withstanding that, in my judgment, it is clear enough 
that it cannot be his, as is ingenuously confessed by 
many of the learned of both parties.^ Rufiinus had 
some name in the Church, though nothing near so 
great as Cyprian had: and this is the reason why the 
afore-named merchants have inscribed with Cyprian's 
name that Treatise upon the Apostles' Creed, which 
was written by Ruffinus. 

Besides the avarice of these Librarii, their own 
ignorance, or at least of those whom they consulted, 
has in like manner produced no small number of these 
spurious pieces. For when either the likeness of the 
name, or of the style, or of the subject treated of, or 
any other seeming reason, gave them occasion to be- 
lieve that such an anonymous book was the work of 
such or such an ancient author, they presently copied 
it out, under the said author's name ; and thus it came 
from thenceforth to be received by the world for such, 
and by them to be transmitted for such to posterity. 

All the blame, however, is not to be laid upon the 
transcribers only in this particular : the authors them- 
selves have contributed very much to the promoting 
of this kind of imposture ; for there have been found 

* Hier. Apol. 2. cont. Ruff. 

t Auctor operis, De Operibus Card. Christi, inter Cyprian, oper. 
p. 444. 

t Erasmus in edit. Cyp. sua. Sixtus Senens. Biblioth. 1. 4. Bellar. 
de Euchar. 1. 2. c. 9. De amiss, grat. 1. 6. c. 2. Possevin. in Ap- 
parat. Scult. Medulla Patr. Andr. Rivet. 1. 2. c. 15. Crit. Sacr. Au- 
bert de Euchar. 1. 2. ch. 8. 


in all ages some so sottishly ambitious; and so desi- 
rous, at any rate, to have their conceptions published 
to the world ; that, finding they should never be able 
to please, and get applause abroad of themselves, they 
have issued them under the name of some of the 
Fathers; choosing rather to see them received and 
honoured under this false guise, than disguised and 
slighted under their own real name. These men, 
according as their several abilities have been, have 
imitated the style and sentiments of the Fathers either 
more or less happily ; and have boldly presented these 
productions of their own brain to the world under 
their names. The world, of which the greatest part 
has always been the least reflecting, has very readily 
collected, preserved, and cherished these fictitious pro- 
ductions, and has by degrees filled all their libraries 
with them. Others have been induced to adopt the 
same artifice, not out of ambition, but some other 
irregular fancy; as those men have done, who, having 
had a particular affection, either to such a person, or 
to such an opinion, have undertaken to write of the 
same, under the name of some author of good esteem 
and reputation with the world, to make it pass the 
more currently abroad: precisely as that priest did, 
who published a book, entitled " The Acts of St. Paul, 
and of Tecla;"* and being convicted of being the 
author of it, in presence of the Apostle John, he 
plainly confessed, that the love that he bare to Paul 
was the only cause that incited him to do it. Such 
was the boldness also of Ruffinus, a priest of Aquileia, 
(whom Jerome justly reprehends so sharply, and in 
so many places,!) who, to vindicate Origen's honour, 
wrote an apology for him, under the name of Pam- 
philus, a holy and renowned martyr; although the 
truth of it is, he had taken it, partly out of the first 
and sixth books that Eusebius had written upon the 
same subject, and partly made use of his own inven- 

* Hier de Script. Eccl. torn. 1. p. 350. ex Tertul. lib. de Baptisma. 
cap. 17. 

t Hier. 1. 2. Apol. contr. Ruffin. torn. 2. p. 334. et Ep. 69. t. 2. et 
Apol. contr. Ruff, ad Pammach. et Marc. torn. 2. 


tion in it. Some similar fancy it was that moved him 
also to put forth the life of one Sextus, a Pythagorean 
philosopher, under the name of St. Sixtus the mar- 
tyr,* to the end that the work might be received the 
more favourably. What can you say to this? name- 
ly, that in the very same age there was a personage 
of greater note than the former; who, disliking that 
Jerome had translated the Old Testament out of the 
Hebrew, framed an epistle under his name, wherein he 
represents him as repenting of having done it ; which 
epistle, even in Jerome's life time, though without 
his knowledge, was published by the said author, both 
at Rome and in Africa? Who could believe the truth 
of this bold attempt, had not Jerome himself related 
the story, and made complaint of the injury done him 
therein?! I must impute also to a fancy of the same 
kind, though certainly more innocent than the other, 
the spreading abroad of so many predictions of our 
Saviour Jesus Christ, and his kingdom, under the 
names of the Sibyls; which was done by some of the 
first Christians, only to prepare the Pagans to relish 
this doctrine the better; as it is objected against them 
by Celsus in Origen.j: But that which is yet of 
greater consequence is, that even the Fathers them- 
selves have sometimes made use of this artifice, to 
promote either their own opinions or their wishes. Of 
this we have a notable example, which was objected 
against the Latins by the Greeks, above two hundred 
years since, of two Bishops of Rome, Zosimus and 
Boniface ;§ who, to authorize the title which they 
pretended to have, of being universal bishops, and 
heads of the whole Christian Church, and particularly 
of the African, forged, about the beginning of the fifth 
century, certain canons in the council of Nice, and 
frequently quoted them as such in the councils in 
Africa ;1T which, notwithstanding, after a long and 
diligent search, could never yet be found in any of 

* Hier. in lerem. com. 4. torn. 4. 

t Hier. 1. 2. Apol. contra Ruff. torn. 2. 

X Orig. contra Cels. lib. 7. 

§ Concil. Flor. Sess. 20. p. 457. T Concil. Afric. 6. cap. 3. 


the authentic copies of the said council of Nice, 
although the African bishops had taken the pains to 
send as far as Constantinople, Alexandria, and An- 
tioch, to obtain the best and most genuine copies they 
could. Neither indeed do the canons and acts of the 
council of Nice at this day, though they have since 
that time passed through so many various hands, con- 
tain any such thing; no, not even the editions of those 
very men who are the most interested in the honour 
of the Popes, as that of Dionysius Exiguus, who pub- 
lished his Latin collection of them about the year of 
our Saviour 525: nor any other, either ancient or 

As to that authentic copy of the council of Nice, 
which one Friar John, at the council of Florence, 
pretended to have been the only copy that had escaped 
the corruptions of the Arians,* and which had for this 
cause been always kept under lock and key at Rome, 
with all the safety and care that might be, (out of 
which copy they had transcribed the said canons,) I 
confess it must needs have been kept up very close, 
under locks and seals, seeing that three of their Popes 
namely, Zosimus, Boniface, and Celestine, could never 
be able to produce it for the justification of their pre- 
tended title against the African Fathers, though in a 
case of so great importance. And it is a strange thing 
to me that this man, who came a thousand years after, 
should now at last make use of it in this cause; 
whereas those very persons who had it in their cus- 
tody never so much as mentioned one syllable of it : 
which is an evident argument that the seals of this 
rare book were never opened, save only in the brains 
of this Doctor, where alone it was both framed and 
sealed up ; brought forth, and vanished all at the same 
instant ; the greatest part of those men that have come 
after him being ashamed to make use of it any longer, 
having laid aside this chimerical invention. To say 
the truth, that which these men answer, by way of 
excusing the said Popes, is not any whit more proba- 
ble, namely, that they took the council of Nice and 

* Concil. Flor. Sess. 20. 


that of Sardica, in which those canons they allege are 
really found, for one and the same council. For 
whom will these men ever be able to persuade, that 
two Ecclesiastical Assemblies, (between which there 
passed nearly twenty -two whole years, called by two 
several emperors, and for matters of a far different 
nature — the one of them for the explanation of the 
Christian faith, and the other for the re-establishing 
of two Bishops on their thrones; and in places very 
far distant from each other — the one at Nicsea in 
Bithynia, the other at Sardica a city of Illyricum — 
the canons of which two councils are very different, 
both in substance, number, and authority — the one 
of them having always been received generally by 
the whole Church, but the other having never been 
acknowledged by the Eastern Church,) should yet, 
notwithstanding, be but one and the same council? 
How can they themselves endure this, who are so 
fierce against the Greeks, for having offered to attribute 
(which they do, notwithstanding, with more appear- 
ance of truth) to the sixth council, those one hundred 
and two canons, which were agreed upon ten years 
after at Constantinople, in an assembly wherein one 
party of the Fathers of the sixth council met? How 
came it to pass, that they gave any credit to the ancient 
Church, seeing that in the Greek collection of her 
ancient canons, those of the council of Sardica are 
entirely omitted; and in the Latin collection of Dio- 
nysius Exiguus, compiled at Rome eleven hundred 
years since, they are placed, not with those of the 
council of Nice, or immediately after, as making one 
entire collection with them; but after the canons of 
all the general councils that had been held till that 
very time he lived in?* And how comes it to pass 
that these ancient Popes, who quoted these canons, if 
they believed these councils to be both one, did not 
say so ? 

The African bishops had frequently declared that 
these canons, which were by them referred to, were 
not at all to be found in their copies. Certainly there- 

* Codex Can. Ec. Un. Dionjs. Exig. p. 99. 


fore, if those who had cited them had thought the 
council of Nice and that of Sardica to have been both 
but one council, they would no doubt have made 
answer, that these canons were to be found in this 
pretended second part of the council of Nice, among 
those which had been agreed upon at Sardica; espe- 
cially when they saw that these careful Fathers, for 
the clearing of the controversy between them, had 
resolved to send, for this purpose, as far as Constanti- 
nople and Alexandria. And yet, notwithstanding all 
this, they do not utter a word on the subject. 

Certainly if the canons of the council of Sardica 
had been in those days reputed as a part of the coun- 
cil of Nice, it is a very strange thing, that so many 
learned and religious prelates as there were at that 
time in Africa, (as Aurelius, Alypius, and even Augus- 
tine, that glorious light, not of the African only but 
of the whole ancient Church,) should have been so 
ignorant in this particular. But it is strange beyond 
all belief, that three Popes and their Legates should 
leave their party in ignorance so gross, and so preju- 
dicial to their own interest; it being in their power to 
have relieved them in two words. We may safely 
then conclude that these Popes, Zosimus and Boni- 
face, had no other copies of the council of Nice than 
what we have ; and also, that they did not believe 
that the canons of the council of Sardica were a part 
of the council of Nice ; but that they rather purposely 
quoted some of the canons of Sardica, under the name 
of the canons of the council of Nice. And this they 
did, according to that maxim which was in force with 
those of former times, and is not entirely laid aside 
even in our own, that for the advancing of a good 
and godly cause, it is lawful sometimes to use a little 
deceit, and to have recourse to what are called pious 
frauds. As they therefore firmly believed that the 
supremacy of their see over all other Churches, was 
a business of great importance, and would be very 
profitable to all Christendom, we are not to wonder 
if, for the establishing this right to themselves, they 
made use of a little legerdemain, in adducing Sardica 


for Nice : reflecting that if they brought their design 
about, this little failing of theirs would, in process of 
time, be abundantly repaired by the benefit and excel- 
lency of the thing itself. 

Notwithstanding the opposition made by the Afri- 
can Fathers against the Church of Rome, Pope Leo, 
not many years after, writing to the emperor Theo- 
dosius,* omitted not to make use of the old forgery, 
citing one of the canons of the council of Sardica, for 
a legitimate canon of the council of Nice ; which was 
the cause, that the emperor Valentinian also, and his 
empress Galla Placidia, writing in behalf of the said 
Pope Leo to the emperor Theodosius,t affirmed to 
him for a certain truth, that both all antiquity, and 
the canons of the council of Nice also, had assigned 
to the Pope of Rome the power of judging of points 
of faith, and of the prelates of the Church ; Leo hav- 
ing before allowed that this canon of the council of 
Sardica was one of the canons of Nice. And thus, 
by a strong perseverance in this pious fraud, they have 
at length so fully persuaded a great part of Christen- 
dom, that the council of Nice had established this 
supremacy of the Pope of Rome, that it is now gene- 
rally urged by all of them whenever this point is con- 

I must request the readers pardon for having so 
long insisted on this particular; and perhaps some- 
what longer than my design required: yet, in my 
judgment, it may be of no small importance to the 
business in hand; for (will the Protestants here say) 
seeing that two Popes, Bishops, and Princes, which 
all Christians have approved, have notwithstanding 
thus foisted in false wares, what ought we to expect 
from the rest of the Bishops and Doctors? Since these 
men have done this, in the beginning of the fifth cen- 
tury, an age of so high repute for its faith and doc- 
trine, what have they not dared to do in the succeeding 
ages? If they have not forborne so foully to abuse 

* Leo in ep. ad Theodos. Imp. torn. 2 Concil. 
t Valentin, in ep. ad Theodos. torn. 2. Concil. Galla Placid, in ep. 
ad Theodos. torn. 2. 


the sacred name of the council of Nice, (the most 
illustrious and venerable monument of Christianity 
next to the Holy Scriptures,) what other authors can 
we imagine they would spare ? And if, in the face 
of so renowned an assembly, (and in the presence of 
whatever Africa could show of eminency, both for 
sanctity and learning, and even under the eye of the 
great Augustine too,) they had no compunctions of 
conscience in making use of so gross a piece of for- 
gery; what have they not since, in these later times, 
while the whole world for so many ages lay covered 
with thick darkness, dared to do ? But as for my part, 
I shall neither accuse nor excuse at present these 
men's proceedings, but shall only conclude, that, see- 
ing the writings of the Fathers, before they came to 
us, have passed through the hands of those who have 
sometimes been found to use these juggling tricks, it 
is not so easy a matter, as people may imagine, to 
discover, out of those writings which now pass under 
the names of the Fathers, what their opinions were. 

Similar motives produced the very same effects in 
the fifth council;* where a letter, forged under the 
name of Theodoret, respecting the death of Cyril, 
was read, and by a general silence approved by the 
whole assembly ; which, notwithstanding, was so evi- 
dently spurious, that those very men, who caused the 
body of the general councils to be printed at Rome, 
have convicted it of falsehood, and branded it as 

Such another precious piece is that foolish story of 
a miracle, wrought by an image of our Saviour Christ 
in the city Berytus, which is related in very ample 
manner in the seventh council,! and bears, forsooth, 
the name of Athanasius; but is indeed so tasteless a 
piece, and so unworthy the gallantry and clearness of 
that great wit, that he must not be thought to have 
common sense who can find in his heart to attribute 
it to him. Therefore we see that, notwithstanding 
the authority of this council, both Nannius, Bellar- 

* Concil. 5. Act. 5. torn. 2. Concil. 
t Concil. 7. Act. 4. torn. 3. Concil. 


mine, and Possevine have plainly confessed that it 
was not written by Athanasius.* 

I shall place in this rank the so much vaunted deed 
of the donation of Constantine, which has for so long 
a time been accounted as a most valid and authentic 
evidence, and has also been inserted in the decrees, 
and so pertinaciously maintained by the Bishop of 
Agobio, against the objections of Laurentius Valla.t 
Certainly those very men, who at this day maintain 
the donation, do notwithstanding disclaim this evi- 
dence as a piece of forgery. 

Of the same nature are the epistles attributed to 
the first Popes,:): as Clemens, Anacletus, Euaristus, 
Alexander, Sixtus, Telesphorus, Hyginus, Pius, Ani- 
cetus, and others, down to the times of Siricius; that 
is to say, to the year of our Saviour 385, which the 
world read, under these venerable titles, at the least 
for eight hundred years together; and by which have 
been decided, to the advantage of the Church of 
Rome, very many controversies, and especially the 
most important of all the rest, that of the Pope's 
monarchy. This shows plain enough the motive, 
(shall I call it such!) or rather the purposed design of 
the trafficker that first circulated them. The greatest 
part of these are accounted forged by men of learn- 
ing, as Henricus Kaltheisen, Nicolas Cusanus, Jo. de 
Turrecremata (both cardinals,) Erasmus, Jo. Driedo, 
Claudius Espensaeus, Cassander, Simon Vigor, Baro- 
nius, and others :§ for indeed their forgery appears 
clear enough from their barbarous style, the errors met 
with at every step in the computation of times and 
history, the pieces they are patched up of, stolen here 

* Nanni. in edit. op. Athan. Bellar. de imag. 1. 2. c. 10. et lib. de 
Script. Eccles. in Athan. Possevin. in appar. in Athan. 

t D. 96. C. Constantino nostro. 14. Augusti. Steuchius de Dona. 

t Baron, in annal. Melchior Canus locor. Theolog. 1. 11. p. 511. 

§ Hen. Kaltheis. ap. Magdeb. cent. 2. Nic. Cusan. Cone. Cath. 1. 2. 
c. 34. Io. de Turrecr. de Eccl. lib. 2. c. 101. Io. Driedo de dogm. 
et Scrip. Eccl. 1. 1. c. 2. CI. Espens. de Contin. 1. 1. c. 2. G. Cassand. 
defens. lib. de officio pii viri, p. 843. Sim. Vig. ex resp. Syn. Basil. 
&c. en la lettre contr. Durand. Baron. Annal. t. 2. an. 102, et an. 


and there out of different authors, whose books we 
have at this day to show ; and also by the general 
silence of all the writers of the first eight centuries, 
among whom there is not one word mentioned of 

Now I shall not here meddle at all with the last six 
or seven centuries; where, in regard to various arti- 
cles of faith, most eagerly professed and established 
by them, there has been more need than ever of the 
assistance of the ancients; and whereas, owing to the 
dark ignorance of those times, and the scarcity of op- 
posers, they had much better opportunity than before, 
to forge what books they pleased. This abuse the 
world was never free from, till the time when the 
light broke forth in the last century; when Erasmus 
gives us an account,* how he himself had discovered 
one of these wretched knaves, whose ordinary prac- 
tice it was to lay his own eggs in another man's nest, 
putting his own fooleries on Jerome particularly, and 
on Augustine and Ambrose. And who knows what 
those many books are, that are daily issued out of the 
self-same shops, that of old were wont to furnish the 
world with these kind of deceptions? Is it not very 
probable that both the will and the dexterity in forg- 
ing and issuing these false wares, will rather in these 
days increase than abate in the professors of this trade? 
So that (if besides what the malice of the heretics, the 
avarice and ignorance of transcribers of manuscripts, 
and the ambition and affection of men have brought 
forth of this kind, there have yet so many others turned 
their endeavours this way, and that in a manner all 
along for* the space of the last fourteen hundred years, 
although they had their several ends,) we are not to 
wonder at all if now, in this last age, we see such a 
strange number of writings falsely fathered upon the 
ancients; which, if they were all put together, would 
make little less than a fourth or a fifth part of the 
works of the Fathers. 

I am not ignorant that the learned have noticed a 
great number of them, and do ordinarily cast them 

* Erasm. praefat. in Hieron. 


into the later tomes of editions; and that some have 
written whole books upon this subject; as Ant. Pos- 
sevine's Apparatus, Bellarmine's Catalogue, Sculte- 
tus' Medulla Patrum, Rivet's Critic, and the like, both 
of the one and the other religion. But who can 
assure us that they have not forgotten anything they 
should have noted? Besides that it is a new labour, 
and almost equal to the former to read so many books 
of the moderns as now exist. And when all is done, 
we are not immediately to rest satisfied with their 
judgment without a due examination. For each of 
them having been prepossessed with the prejudices of 
the party in which they were brought up, before they 
took this work in hand, who shall assure us that they 
have not delivered anything, in this case, in favour of 
their own particular interest, as we have before no- 
ticed? The justness of this suspicion is so clear, that 
I presume that no man, any way versed in these 
matters, will desire me to prove my assertion. Neither 
shall I need to give any other reason for it, than the 
conflicts and disagreement in judgments which we 
may observe in these men: the one of them oftentimes 
letting pass for pure metal what the other perhaps 
will throw by for dross; which differences are found 
not only between those that are of quite opposite 
religions, but, which is more, even between those that 
are of the self-same persuasion. 

Those whom we named not long before, who were 
all of the Roman Church, depreciate, as we have said, 
the greatest part of the decretals of the first Popes. 
Franciscus Turrianus, a Jesuit, receives them, and 
defends them all, in a tract written by him to that 
purpose. Baronius calls the Recognitions, which are 
attributed to Clemens Romanus, " A gulf of filth and 
uncleanness; full of prodigious lies and frantic foole- 
ries."* Bellarmine says that this book was written 
either by Clemens or some other author as learned 
and as ancient as himself.t Some of them consider 

* Baron. Annal. torn. 1. an. 51. 

t Nos fatemur librum esse corruptum, &c. Sed tamen vel esse 
dementis Romani, vel alterius ©que docti ac antiqui. — Bellar. de lib, 
arbit. t. 5. c. 25. 


those fragments, published by Nicol. Faber, under the 
name of St. Hilary, as good and genuine productions; 
and some others again reject them. Erasmus, Sixtus 
Senensis, Melchior Canus, and Baronius, are of opi- 
nion that the book " Of the Nativity of the Virgin 
Mary/' is falsely attributed to Jerome. Christopho- 
rus a Castro, a Spanish Jesuit, maintains the con- 
trary. Cardinal Cajetan, Laurentius Valla, Erasmus, 
and some others, hold the books of Dionysius the 
Areopagite, as suspected and spurious. Baronius, 
and almost all the rest of their writers, maintain that 
they are true and legitimate. Turrianus, Bovin, and 
some others, recommend to us the " Constitutions of 
the Apostles," as a genuine production; but Baroni- 
us, Possevine, Petavius, and a great many others, 
speak doubtfully of them. 

We find in the writings of those of the Church of 
Rome an infinite variety of judgments in such cases 
as these. He that desires to furnish himself with ex- 
amples of this kind, may have recourse to their books, 
and particularly to the writings of the late Cardinal 
Perron, who differs as much from the rest, in this 
point of criticism, as he does for the most part in the 
method he observes in his disputations. Now I would 
willingly be informed what a man should do, amidst 
these diversities of judgment; and what path he 
should take, where he meets with such disagreeing 

Yet suppose that these authors have done their 
utmost endeavour in this design, without any par- 
ticular affection or partiality; how, notwithstanding, 
shall we be satisfied concerning their capability for 
the performance of their undertaking? Is it a light 
business, think you, to bring the whole stock of anti- 
quity to the crucible, and there to purify and refine it, 
and to separate all the dross from it, which has so 
deeply, and for the space of so many ages, been not 
only, as it were, tied and fastened on to it, but even 
thoroughly mixed, united, and incorporated with it? 
This work requires the most clear and refined judg- 
ment that can be imagined; an exquisite wit, a quick 


piercing eye, a perfect ear, a most exact knowledge 
in all history, both ancient and modern, ecclesiasti- 
cal and secular; a perfect knowledge of the ancient 
tongues ; and a long and continued acquaintance with 
all kinds of writers, ancient, mediaeval, and modern, 
to be able to judge of their opinions, and which way 
their pulse beats: to understand rightly the manner 
of their expression, invention, and method in writing: 
each age, each nation, and each author, having in all 
these things their own peculiar ways. Now such a 
man as this is hardly produced in a whole age. 

As for those men who in our times have taken upon 
them this department of criticism, who knows, who 
sees not, that only reads them, how many of the quali- 
fications just enumerated are wanting in them? But 
suppose that such a man were to be found, and that 
he should take in hand this discovery, I do verily be- 
lieve that he would be able very easily to find out the 
imposture of a bungling fool, that had ill counterfeited 
the stamp, colour, and weight, in the work which he 
would father upon some other man; or that should, 
lor example, endeavour to represent Jerome or Chry- 
sostom with a stammering tongue, and should make 
them speak barbarous language, bad Latin, and bad 
Greek; or else perhaps should make use of such terms, 
things, or authors, as were not known to the world, 
till a long time after these men ; or should make them 
treat of matters far removed from the age they lived 
in, and maintain opinions which they never thought 
of; or reject those, which they are notoriously known 
to have held: and of this sort, for the most part, are 
those pieces which our critics have decried, and noted 
as spurious. But if a man should chance to bring him 
a piece of some able master, that should have fully 
and exactly learned both the languages, history, man- 
ners, alliances, and quarrels of the family into which 
he has boldly obtruded himself, and should be able to 
make happy use of all these, be assured that our Aris- 
tarchus would be here as much puzzled to discover 
this juggler, as they were once in France, to prove the 
impostures of Martin Guerre. 


Now how can we imagine, but that among so many- 
several persons, that have for their several purposes 
employed their utmost endeavours in these kinds of 
forgeries, there must needs have been, in so many 
centuries, very many able men, who have had the 
skill so artificially to copy the manner and style of 
the persons whom they imitate, as to render it im- 
possible to discover them? Especially, if they made 
choice of such a name, as was the only thing remain- 
ing in the world of that author ; so that there is no 
mark left us, either of his style, discourse, or opinions, 
to guide us in our examination. And therefore in my 
judgment he was a very cunning fellow, and made a 
right choice, that undertook to write, under the name 
of Dionysius the Areopagite ; for, not having any true 
legitimate piece of this author left us, by which we 
may examine the cheat, the discovery must needs be 
difficult; and it would have proved so much the more 
hard, if he had but used a more modest and less swel- 
ling manner of expression : whereas for those others, 
who in the ages following made bold with the names 
of Jerome, Cyprian, Augustine, and the like, (of whose 
legitimate writings we have very many pieces left us,) 
a man may know them at the first sight, merely by 
their style; those Gothic and rude spirits being no 
more able to counterfeit the graces and elegances of 
these great authors, than an ass is to imitate the war- 
blings of the nightingale. 

I confess there is another help, which, in my judg- 
ment, may better answer our purpose in this particu- 
lar than all the rest ; namely, the light and direction 
of the ancients themselves: who oftentimes make 
mention of other writers of the Church, that lived 
either before or in their own times ; Jerome, among 
the Latins, having taken the pains to make a cata- 
logue of all those with whose names and writings he 
was acquainted, from the apostles to his own time, 
which was afterwards continued by Gennadius. To 
this we may also add that incomparable work of the 
patriarch Photius, which he calls his Bibliotheca, and 
which is now published in this our age ; where this 


great person has given us his judgment of most of the 
authors of the Greek Church. Now this aid we may 
make use of in two diiferent ways; the one in justi- 
fying a book, if it be found mentioned by these au- 
thors; the other in rejecting it, if they say nothing of 
it. As for the first of these, it concludes only accord- 
ing to the quality of the authors who make mention 
of a suspected book. For some of the Fathers them- 
selves have made use of these kinds of forgeries, as 
we have formerly said; others have favoured them 
because they served their turn: some have not been 
able to discover them; and some others have not been 
willing to do so, whatsoever their reason has been. 

I shall not here repeat the names of any of those 
who have done these things themselves. As for those 
that have favoured them, there are numerous exam- 
ples ; as Justin Martyr, Theophilus, and others, who 
adduce the Sybils' verses as oracles; the greatest part 
of which, notwithstanding, are forged. As to Clemens 
Alexandrinus, the most learned and most polished of 
all the Fathers, in Jerome's judgment,* how often 
does he make use of those apocryphal pieces, which 
go under the names of the Apostles and disciples, to 
whom they were most falsely attributed; citing, under 
the name of Barnabas,! and of Hermes,J such wri- 
tings as have been forged under their names. And 
did not the seventh council in like manner make use of 
a supposititious piece attributed to Athanasius, as we 
have shown before; and likewise of divers others, 
which are of the same stamp ? 

That even the Fathers themselves therefore have 
not been able always to make a true discovery of 
these false wares, no man can doubt; considering that 
of those many necessary qualifications, which we 
enumerated before, as requisite in this particular, they 
may oftentimes have failed in some. Jerome him- 
self, the most knowing man among all the Latin 
Fathers, especially in matters of this nature, some- 
times lets them pass without examination: as where 

* Hier. ep. 84. ad Magn. torn. 2. t Clem. Alex. Strom. 1. 2. 

t Clem. Alex. Strom. 1. 1. & 1. 2. et alibi passim. 


he speaks of a certain tract against mathematicians, 
attributed to Minutius Foelix, " If at least (saith he) 
the inscription represent unto us the right author of 
the book."* In another place, whatsoever his reason 
was, he delivers to us, for legitimate pieces, the epistles 
that go under the name of St. Paul to Seneca, and of 
Seneca to St. Paul;t which, notwithstanding, Cardinal 
Baronius holds for suspected and spurious, as doubt- 
less they are. J But even those men who have been 
able to discover these false pieces have not sometimes 
been willing to do it; either being unwilling to offend 
the authors of them, or else not daring to cast any 
disrepute upon those books which, having many good 
things in them, had not in their judgment maintained 
any false or dangerous positions. This is the reason 
why they chose to let such things pass, rather than, 
out of a little tenderness of conscience, to oppose 
them: there being, in their apprehension, no danger 
at all in the one, but much trouble and invidiousness 
in the other. Therefore I am of opinion, that Jerome, 
for example, would never have taken the pains, nor 
have undergone the invidiousness, of laying open the 
forgeries of Ruffinus, if the misunderstanding that 
happened to be between them, had not urged him to 
it. Neither do I believe that the African Fathers 
would ever have troubled themselves to prove the 
false allegation of Zosimus, but for their own interest, 
which was thereby called into question. For wise 
and sober men are never wont to fall into variance 
with any without necessity: neither do they quickly 
take notice of any injury or abuse offered them, unless 
it be a very great one, and such as has evident danger 
in it : which was not at all perceived or taken notice 
of at first, in these forgeries, that have nevertheless at 
length, by little and little, in a manner borne down all 
the good and legitimate books. 

These considerations, in my opinion, make it clearly 
appear, that the title of a book is not sufficiently justi- 
fied by a passage or two being cited out of it by some 

* Hier. ep. 84. ad Magn. torn. 2. 

t Id. in Catal. torn. 1. t Baron. Annal. torn. 1. an. 66. 


of the ancients, and under the same name. As for 
the other way, which renders the authority of a book 
doubtful, from the ancients not having made any 
mention of it, I confess it is no more demonstrative 
than the other : as it is not impossible, that any one, 
or divers of the Fathers, may not have met with such 
a certain writer that was then extant: or else perhaps 
that they might omit some one of those very authors 
which they knew. Yet this is, notwithstanding, the 
much surer way of the two : there being less danger 
in this case, in rejecting a true piece, than in receiv- 
ing a forged one ; the want of the truth of the one 
being doubtless much less prejudicial than the receiv- 
ing the opposite falsehood of the other. For as it is 
a less sin to omit the good, than to commit the evil 
that is opposed to it; in like manner is it a less error, 
not to believe a truth than to believe the falsehood 
which is contrary to it. And thus we see what con- 
fusion there is in the books of the ancients, and what 
defect in the means which is requisite in distinguish- 
ing the false from the true : insomuch that, as it often 
happens, it is much easier to judge what we ought to 
reject, than to resolve upon what we may safely 
receive. Let the reader therefore now judge, whether 
or not, these writings having come down through so 
many ages, and passed through so many hands, which 
are either known to have been notoriously guilty, or 
at least strongly suspected of forgery — the truth in 
the mean time having made on its part but very weak 
resistance against these impostures — it be not a very 
difficult matter to discover, amidst the infinite number 
of books that are now extant, and go under the names 
of the Fathers, which are those that truly belong to 
them, and which, again, are those that are falsely 
imposed upon them. And if it be so hard a matter 
to discover in gross only which are the writings of 
the Fathers, how much more difficult a business will 
it be to find out what their opinions are, on the several 
controversies now in agitation. We are not to ima- 
gine, that it is no great matter from which of the 
Fathers such an opinion has sprung, so that it came 


from any one of them : for there is altogether as much 
difference amongst these ancient doctors, both in 
respect of authority, learning, and goodness, as among 
the modern. Besides that, an age being higher or 
lower either raises or lessens the repute of these wri- 
tings, in the esteem both of the one party and of the 
other, as it were so many grains as years : and cer- 
tainly not altogether without good reason; it being 
most evident to any one that has been but the least 
versed in the reading of these books, that time has by 
degrees introduced very great alterations, as well in 
the doctrine and discipline of the ancients, as in all 
other things. 

Our conclusion therefore must be, that if any one 
shall desire to know what the sense and judgment of 
the primitive Church has been, as regards our present 
controversies, it will be first in a manner as necessary 
for him as it is difficult, exactly to find out both the 
name and the age of each of these several authors. 


Reason IV. — The writings of the Fathers, which are considered legiti- 
mate, have been in many places corrupted by time, ignorance, and 
fraud, pious and malicious, both in the early and later ages. 

But now suppose that you have, by long and judi- 
cious investigation, separated the true and genuine 
writings of the Fathers, from the spurious and forged; 
there would yet rest upon you a second task, the re- 
sult of which is likely to prove much more doubtful, 
and more replete with difficulty, than the former. For 
it would behove you, in the next place, in reading 
over those authors which you acknowledge as legiti- 
mate, to distinguish what is the author's own, and 
what has been foisted in by another hand; and also 
to restore to your author whatsoever either by time 
or fraud has been taken away, and to take out of him 


whatsoever has been added by either of these two. 
Otherwise you will never be able to assure yourself 
that you have discovered, out of these books, what 
the true and proper meaning and sense of your author 
has been; considering the great alterations that in va- 
rious ways they may have suffered at different times. 

I shall not here speak of those errors which have 
been produced by the ignorance of the transcribers, 
" who write," as Jerome has complained of them, 
" not what they find, but what themselves understand;* 
nor yet of those faults which necessarily have grown 
up out of the very transcribing; it being impossible 
that books which have been copied out an infinite 
number of times, during the space of ten or twelve 
centuries, by men of different capacities and hand- 
writing, should all this while retain exactly and in 
every particular the self-same style, the same form and 
body, that they had when they first came forth from 
the author's own hand. 

I shall say nothing of the damage sustained by 
these books from moths and a thousand other injuries 
of time, by which they have been corrupted; while 
all kinds of learning, for so many ages together, lay 
buried as it were in the grave; the worms on one 
side feeding on the books of the learned, and on the 
other, the dust defacing them; so that it is impossible 
now to restore them to their first condition. This is 
the fate that all kinds of books have been exposed to ; 
whence have originated so many various readings 
found almost in all authors. I shall not here take any 
advantage of this; though there are some doctors in 
the world that have showed us the way to do it; with 
the intention of lessening the authority that the Holy 
Scriptures of themselves ought to have in the esteem 
of all men ; under that plea, that even in those sacred 
writings there are sometimes found various readings, 
which yet are of very little or no importance as to 
the ground-work. If we would tread in these men's 
steps, and apply to the writings of the Fathers what 
they say and conclude of the Scriptures, we could do 

* Jer. ep. 28. ad Lucin. torn. i. 


it upon much better terms than they; there being no 
reason on earth to imagine but that the books of the 
ancient writers have suffered very much more than 
the Scriptures have, which have always been pre- 
served in the Church with much greater care than any 
other books, and which have been learned by all na- 
tions, and translated into all languages; which all 
sects have retained, both Orthodox and Heretics, Ca- 
tholics and Schismatics, Greeks and Latins, Musco- 
vites and Ethiopians; each observing diligently the 
revisions and transcriptions of the other ; so that there 
could not possibly happen any remarkable alteration 
in them, without the whole world as it were instantly 
exclaiming against it, and making their complaints to 
resound throughout the universe. Whereas, on the 
contrary, the writings of the Fathers have been kept, 
transcribed, and read in as careless a manner as could 
be; and that too by but very few, and in few places: 
being but rarely understood by any, save those of the 
same language; this being the cause that so many 
faults have the more easily crept into them, and like- 
wise that they are the more difficult to be discovered. 
Besides that the particular style and obscurity of some 
of them render the errors the more important. As for 
example, take a Tertullian, and you will find that one 
little word added or taken away, or altered ever so 
little, or a full point or comma put out of its place, 
will so confound the sense, that you will not be able 
to discover his meaning: whereas in books of an easy, 
smooth, clear style, as the Scriptures for the most part 
are, these faults are much less prejudicial; for they 
cannot in any wise so darken the sense but that it will 
be still easy enough to comprehend it. 

But I shall pass by all these minute particulars, as 
more suitable to the inquiries of the Pyrrhonians and 
Academics, whose business it is to question all things, 
than of Christians who only seek, in simplicity and 
sincerity of heart, whereon to build their faith. I shall 
only here take notice of such alterations as have been 
knowingly and voluntarily made in the writings of the 
Fathers, purposely to conceal or disguise their sense, 



or else to make them speak more than they meant. 
This forgery is of two sorts ; the one has been made 
use of with a good intention, the other out of malice. 
Again, the one has been committed in times long 
since past, the other in this last age, in our own days 
and the days of our fathers. Lastly, the one is in the 
additions made to authors, to make them speak more 
than they meant ; the other, in subtracting from the 
author, to eclipse and darken what he would be under- 
stood to say. Neither ought we to wonder, that even 
those of the honest, innocent, primitive times also 
made use of these deceits ; seeing that, for a good end, 
they made no great scruple to forge whole books, 
taking a much stranger and bolder course, in my 
opinion, than the other. For without doubt it is a 
greater crime to coin false money, than to clip or alter 
the true. This opinion, has always been in the world, 
that to fix a certain estimation upon that which is 
good and true, (that is to say, upon what we account 
to be such,) it is necessary that we remove out of 
the way whatsoever may be a hinderance to it, and 
that there can be no great danger either in putting in, 
or at least in leaving any thing in, that may yield 
assistance to it; whatsoever the issue of either of 
these may in the end prove to be. Hence it has come 
to pass, that we have so many ancient forgeries, and so 
many strange stories of miracles and of visions; many 
taking a delight in feigning (as Jerome says) "great 
combats which they have had with devils in deserts,"* 
all of which are merely fabulous in themselves, and 
acknowledged to be so by the most intelligent of them. 
Yet, notwithstanding, they are tolerated, and some- 
times also recommended, as they account them useful, 
for the settling or increasing the faith or devotion of 
the people. 

What will you say, if at this day there are some 
even of those men who make profession of being the 
greatest haters in the world of these subtilties, who 
cannot nevertheless put forth any book, without lop- 

* Daemonum contra se pugnantium portenta confingunt. — Hier. ep. 
4. ad Rustic, torn. 1. 


ping off or falsifying whatsoever does not wholly agree 
with the doctrine they hold for true; fearing, as they 
say, lest such things, coming to the eye of the simple 
common people, might infect them, and possess their 
heads with new fancies. So firmly has this opinion 
been of old rooted in the nature of man. 

Now I will not here dispute whether this proceed- 
ing of theirs be lawful or not. I shall only say by the 
way that in my judgment it is shameful for the truth 
to be established or defended by such falsifications and 
evasions, as if it had not sufficient weapons, both defen- 
sive and offensive of its own, but that it must borrow 
of its adversary. It is a very dangerous course more- 
over, because the discovery of one cheat oftentimes 
renders the cause of those who practised it wholly 
suspected. So that, by making use of such flights as 
these in the Christian religion, either for the gaining 
or confirming the faith of some of the simpler people, 
it is to be feared, that you may give distaste to the 
more intelligent ; and by this means at length may 
chance to lose also the affections of the more ignorant. 
But whatsoever this course of deception be, either in 
itself or in its consequences, it is sufficient for my pur- 
pose, that it has long been the practice in the Church, 
in matters of religion ; and for proof of which I shall 
here produce some instances. 

The heretics have always been accused of using 
this artifice : but I shall not here notice what altera- 
tions have been made by the most ancient of them, 
even in the Scriptures themselves. If you would have 
a sample of this practice of theirs, only go to Tertul- 
lian and Epiphanius, and you will there see how 
Marcion had mutilated and altered the Gospel of 
Luke, and those Epistles of Paul, which he allowed 
to be such. Nor have the ages following been a whit 
more conscientious in this particular; as appears by 
those complaints made by Ruffinus,* in his exposi- 
tions upon the Apostles' Creed : and in another trea- 
tise written by him purposely on this subject; which 

* Ruffi. in Expos. Symbol, et lib. de adult, script. Origen. 


is indeed contradicted by Jerome,* but only in his 
hypothesis, as to what concerned Origen ; but not ab- 
solutely in his Thesis: and by similar complaints of 
Cyril,t and various others of the ancients ; and among 
the moderns by those very persons also who have put 
forth the general councils at Rome ; who inform us, 
in the preface to the first volume,^ that time and the 
fraud of the heretics have been the cause that the acts 
of the said councils, as far as they exist, have not 
come to our hands either entire or pure and perfect: 
and they grievously bewail that we should be thus 
deprived of so great and so precious a treasure. Now 
this testimony, coming from such, is to me worth a 
thousand others; they, in my opinion, being evidently 
interested to speak otherwise. For if the Church of 
Rome, who is the pretended mistress and trustee of the 
faith, has suffered any part of the councils to perish 
and be lost, which is esteemed by them as the code of 
the Church, what then may the rest have also suffer- 
ed? what may not the heretics and schismatics have 
been able to do? And if all these evidences have been 
altered by their fraud, how shall we be able by them 
to come to the knowledge of the opinions and judg- 
ment of the ancients? I confess I am much surprised 
to see these men make so much account of the acts of 
the councils; and to make such grievous complaints 
against the heretics for having suppressed some of 
them. For if these things are of such use, why then 
do they themselves keep from us the acts of the coun- 
cil of Trent; which is the most important council, both 
for them and their party, that has been held in the 
Christian Church these eight hundred years? If it be 
a crime in the heretics to have kept from us these 
precious jewels, why are not they afraid, lest the 
blame which they lay on others may chance to revert 
upon themselves? But doubtless there is something 
in the business that renders these cases different; and 

* Hier. ep. 65, torn. 2, et Apol. 2. contr. Ruffi. 
t Cyril, ep. ad Ioh. Antioch. in Act. Cone. Eph. 
t In Prselat. in torn. 1. Concil. Gen. 


I confess I wonder they publish it not : the simpler 
sort, for want of being otherwise informed, thinking 
perhaps, though it may be without cause, that the 
reason why the acts of this last council are kept close 
from them, is because they know that the publishing 
of them would be either prejudicial, or at least unpro- 
fitable, to the greatness of the Church of Rome. They 
also again, on the other side, conceive that in those 
other acts, which they say have been suppressed by 
the heretics, there were wonderful matters to be found, 
for the advancing and supporting of the Church of 
Rome. Whatsoever the reason be, I cannot but com- 
mend the ingenuity of these men, who, notwithstand- 
ing their interest which seemed to engage them to the 
contrary, have nevertheless confessed, that the coun- 
cils which we have at this day are neither entire nor 

Let us now examine whether even the orthodox 
party themselves have not also contributed something 
to this alteration of the writings of the primitive 
Church. Epiphanius reports, that in the true and 
most correct copies of Luke, it was written, that 
" Jesus Christ wept;" and that this passage had been 
quoted by Irenseus; but that the Catholics had blotted 
out this expression, fearing that the heretics might 
abuse it.* 

Whether this relation be true or false, must rest 
upon the credit of the author. But this I shall say, 
that it seems to me a clear argument, that these 
ancient Catholics would have made no great scruple 
of blotting out of the writings of the Fathers any 
word that they found to contradict their own opinions 
and judgment ; and that with the same liberty that they 
inform us the heretics used to do. For seeing that, as 
this Father informs us, they made no conscience of 
making such an attempt upon the gospel of the Son 
of God himself, with how much greater confidence 
would they adventure to mangle the books of men? 
Certainly Ruffinus, a man so much applauded by 

T«xs?, km to io-^vpratToy. — Epiphanius in Anchor. 


Jerome,* before their falling out, and so highly es- 
teemed by Augustine,! who very much bewails the 
breach between those two, (and whom GennadiusJ 
has placed, with a very high eulogy of his worth, in 
his Catalogue of Ecclesiastical writers) has so filthily 
mangled, and so licentiously confounded the writings 
of Origen, Eusebius, and others, which he has trans- 
lated into Latin, that you will hardly find a page in 
his translations, where he has not either cut off, or 
added, or at least altered something. Jerome also, 
although his opponent, yet agrees with him in this 
point ;§ confessing in several places that he had in- 
deed translated Origen, but in such a manner that he 
had taken liberty to cut away that which was dan- 
gerous, and had left only that which was useful, and 
had interpreted only what was good, and had left out 
the bad; that is to say, that if he found anything 
there that was not consonant to the common judg- 
ment and opinions of his time, and so might possibly 
give offence to the common people, he suppressed it 
in his translation. He also affirmed that Hilary, and 
Eusebius bishop of Vercelli, had done the like.|| And 
again, in his preface to Eusebius, " De locis Hebrai- 
cis," he confesses that he left out that which he con- 
ceived was not worth remembering; and that he had 
altered the greatest part of it. To make it evident 
that this has been his constant practice, we need but 
compare his Latin chronology with the Greek frag- 
ments which remain of Eusebius; where you may 
plainly see what license these ancients allowed them- 
selves in the writings of others. 

What doubt can there be but that those men who 
came after them, following the authority of so great 
an example, carefully took out of their copies, or else 
left out of their translations, the greatest part of what- 
ever they found to be dissonant to the opinions and 

* Hier. ep. 5. ad Flor. et ep. 41. ad Ruffin. 

t Aug. ep. ad Hier. quae est inter ep. Hier. 93, et iterum ep. 97. 

I Gennad. in Catal. inter op. Hier. 

§ Hier. ep. 62. ad Theoph. Alex, et lib. 2. Apol. contra Ruffin. 

|| Hier. ep. 75. Id. praefat. in lib. Euseb. de loc. Hebr. 


customs which were received in the Church in the 
times they lived in? and likewise, that for imparting 
the greater authority to them, some have had the bold- 
ness to add, in some places, what they conceived to 
be wanting? Whence else could it proceed, that we 
should have so many unreasonable breakings off in 
many places, and so many impertinent additions in 
others, as are frequently to be met with in the ancient 
authors? Whence otherwise should we have those 
many coarse patches in the midst of their soft satin 
and velvet? and that inequality which we observe in 
one and the same author in a quarter of an hour's 

It would be a tedious matter to bring in here all the 
examples of this kind that might be mentioned; there 
being scarcely any of the moderns that have taken 
any pains in writing upon the Fathers, but have 
noticed and complained of this abuse. Hence it is, 
that we oftentimes meet with such notices as this, in 
the margins of the Fathers: "Hie videtur aliquis 
assuisse nugas snas" and the like:* and that also 
which is observed by Vives upon the twenty-first 
Book of Augustine De Civitate Dei ; namely, that ten 
or twelve lines, which we find at this day in the 
twenty-fourth chapter of that Book, containing a posi- 
tive assertion of purgatory, were not to be found in 
the ancient manuscripts of Bruges, and of Cologne;! 
no, nor yet in that of Paris, as is noted by those that 
printed Augustine, anno 1531. One Holsteinius also, 
a Dutchman, testifies that he had met with divers 
pieces among the manuscripts of the King's Library, of 
Chrysostom, Proclus, and others, that had in like man- 
ner been scratched in divers places by the like hands, 
by some interpolators of the later and worse ages.f 

* Tom. 4. op. Ambr. p. 211. lib. 2. de Abra. in marg. annot. 

t In antiquis libris Brug. et Colon, non leguntur isti decern aut 
duodecim qui sequuntur versus. — hud. Vives in lib. 21. de Civ. Dei, 
c. 24. 

$ Neque solius Athanasii ea fortuna, ut ineptissimorum interpola- 
torum manus subiret, ciim Chrysostomi, Procli, aliorumque homilias 
similibus sequiorum sseculorum ineptiis fcedatas, in iisdem regiis codi- 
cibus invenerira. — Holstein. op. Urn. prof, torn. op. Athan. 


But I may not here forget to observe, that this altera- 
tion has also taken place, even in the most sacred 
and public pieces ; as in the liturgies of the Church, 
and the like : and I shall give you this observation, 
in order that it may carry with it the greater grace- 
fulness and weight, in the expressions of Andreas 
Masius, a man of singular and profound learning, yet 
of such candour and integrity as renders him more 
admired than his knowledge; and which, together 
with his other excellences, endears him to all mode- 
rate men of both professions. This learned person, 
observing that the Liturgy of St. Basil was not so long 
in the Syriac as in the Greek, assigns this reason — 
" For," saith he, " men have always been of such a 
humour and disposition in matters of religion, that 
you shall scarcely find any that have been able to con- 
tent themselves Avith the ceremonies prescribed unto 
them by their Fathers, however holy they have been 
in themselves : so that we may observe that in course 
of time, according as the prelates have thought fittest 
to unite the affections of the people to piety and devo- 
tion, many other things have been either added or 
altered, and (which is much worse,) many supersti- 
tious things have been also introduced; in which par- 
ticular I conceive the Christians of Syria have been 
more moderate and less extravagant than the Greeks 
and Latins, from not having the opportunity of enjoy- 
ing that quiet and abundance of life which the others 
had."* Thus the learned Masius. Cassander also,t 
who searched the writings of the ancients with good 
intentions, acknowledges, and proves out of other 
authors, that the ancient liturgies have by little and 
little been enlarged by the several additions of the 

Thus proportionably as the world itself has changed, 
so would it have whatever there remained of anti- 
quity to undergo its alterations also ; imagining that 
it was but reasonable that these books should in some 
measure accommodate their language to the times; 

* Andr. Masius, Praef. in Litur. Syr. 
t Cassand. in Liturg. cap. 2. 


as the authors of them in all probability would have 
done themselves, (believing and speaking with the 
times,) had they been now living. Now to render them 
the more acceptable, they have used those arts upon 
them, that some old men are wont to practise ; they 
have new coloured their beard and mustachios, cutting 
off the rude and scattered hairs; have smoothed their 
skin, and given it a fresh complexion, and taught 
them to speak with a new voice, having changed also 
the colour of their habit: insomuch that it is much to 
be feared, that we oftentimes do but lose our labour, 
when we search, in these disguised faces and mouths, 
for the complexion and language of true antiquity. 
Thus have they taught Eusebius to tell us in his 
Chronicon, that the fast of Lent was instituted by Te- 
lesphorus, and the observation of the Lord's day by 
Pius, both bishops of Rome ; which is a thing Euse- 
bius never so much as dreamt of, as may appear out 
of some manuscripts of his, where you find him wholly 
silent as to these points, with which the moderns are 
much pleased.* 

But to return, and take up the thread of time, we 
may observe that this license grew stronger daily as 
the times grew worse ; because that the greater the 
distance of time was from the author's own age, the 
more difficult the discovery of these forgeries must 
necessarily be : the example also of some of the most 
eminent persons among the ancients, who had some- 
times made use of these sleights, adding on the other 
side boldness to every one, and courage to venture 
upon what they had done before them. For indeed, 
is it not a strange thing, that the legates of Pope Leo, 
in the year 451, in the midst of the council of Chalce- 
don, where were assembled six hundred bishops, the 
very flower and choice of the whole clergy, should 
have the confidence to quote the sixth canon of the 
council of Nice in these very words — -'That the 

* Euseb. in Chro. edit. num. 2148. & 2158. Vide Scalig. in loc. 
p. 198. a. & 201. a. See also Card. Perron's Reply to K. James, 
Observ. 2. c. 8. 


Church of Rome has always had the primacy:"* 
words which are no more found in any Greek copies 
of the councils, than are those other pretended canons 
of Pope Zosimus: neither do they appear in any 
Greek or Latin copies, nor so much as in the edition 
of Dionysius Exiguus, who lived about fifty years 
after this council. When I consider that the legates 
of so holy a Pope would at that time have fastened 
such a wen upon the body of so venerable a canon, 
I am almost ready to think that we scarcely have any 
thing of antiquity left us that is entire and uncorrupt, 
except it be in matters of indifference, or which could 
not have been corrupted without much noise ; and to 
take this proceeding of theirs, which is come to our 
knowledge, as an advertisement purposely given us 
by Divine Providence, to let us see with how much 
consideration and advisedness we ought to receive for 
the council of Nice, and of Constantinople, and for 
Cyprian's and Jerome's writings, that which goes at 
this day for such. 

About seventy-four years after the council of Chal- 
cedon, Dionysius Exiguus, whom we before mention- 
ed, made his collection at Rome, which is since printed 
at Paris, cum privilegio regis, out of very ancient 
manuscripts. Whosoever will but look diligently into 
this collection, will find various alterations in it, one 
of which I shall instance merely to show how old this 
artifice has been among Christians. 

The last canon of the council of Laodicea, which 
is the hundred and sixty-third of the Greek code of 
the Church universal, forbidding to read in churches 
any other books than those which are canonical, gives 
us a long catalogue of them. Dionysius Exiguus, 
although he has indeed inserted in his collection 
(Num. 162) the beginning of the said canon, which 
forbids to read any other books in the churches be- 
sides the sacred volumes of the Old and New Testa- 
ment, yet has wholly omitted the catalogue, or list of 
the said books: fearing, as I conceive, lest the tail of 

* Concil. Chalced. Act. 16. torn. 2. Concil. 


this catalogue might scandalize the Church of Rome, 
where many years before Pope Innocent had, by an 
express decree to that purpose, put into the canon of 
the Old Testament* the Maccabees, the Wisdom of 
Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Tobit, Judith, &c. ; of which 
books the Fathers of the council of Laodicea make no 
mention at all, naming but twenty -two books of the 
Old Testament; and in the catalogue of the New, 
utterly omitting the Apocalypse. 

If, any man can show me a better reason for this 
suppression, let him speak. For my part I conceive 
this the most probable that can be given. However, 
we are not bound to divine what the motive should 
be, that made Dionysius cut off that part of the canon. 
For, whatsoever the reason was, it serves the purpose 
well enough to make it appear that at that time they 
felt no compunction of conscience in curtailing, if need 
were, the very text of the canons themselves. So 
that if we had not had the good fortune to have 
this canon entire and perfect, in divers other monu- 
ments of antiquity, (as in the collections of the Greeks, 
and also in the councils of the French Church,) we 
should at this day have been wholly ignorant what 
the judgment of the Fathers of Laodicea was respect- 
ing the canon of the Holy Scriptures, which is one 
of the principal controversies of these times. 

It is true, I confess, that the Latins have their re- 
venge upon the Greeks, reproaching them in like 
manner, that in their translation of the code of the 
canons of the African Church, they have left the 
books of the Maccabees quite out of the roll of the 
books of Scriptures, which is set down in the twenty- 
fourth canon of their collection, expressly against the 
faith of all the Latin copies in this collection, both 
printed and manuscript, as Cardinal Perron affirms.t 
Yet there are some othersj who assure us that no 
book of Maccabees appears at all in this canon, in the 
collection of Cresconius, a bishop of Africa, not yet 

* Innocent. 1. ep. 3. ad Exup. Tholos. c. 7. 

t Perron Repl. 1. I.e. 50. 

t Christ. Justel. in Not. ad Can. 24. Cod. Gr. Eccles. Afric. 


The Greek code represents to us seven canons of 
the first council of Constantinople; which are in like 
manner found both in Balsamon and in Zonaras, and 
also in the Greek and Latin edition of the general 
councils, printed at Rome. The three last of these do 
not appear at all in the Latin code of Dionysius; 
though they are very important ones as to the busi- 
ness they relate to, which is, the order of proceeding, 
in passing judgment upon bishops accused, and in 
receiving such persons, who, forsaking their commu- 
nion with heretics, desire to be admitted into the 
Church. It is very difficult to say, what should move 
the collector to alter this council thus. But this I am 
very well assured of, that in the sixth canon, which 
is one of those he has omitted, and which treats of 
judging of bishops accused, there is not the least men- 
tion made of appealing to Borne, nor of any reserved 
cases, wherein it is not permitted to any, save only to 
the Pope himself, to judge a bishop; the power of 
hearing and determining all such matters being here 
wholly and absolutely referred to provincial diocesan 
synods. Now whether the Greeks made this addition 
to the council of Constantinople, (which yet is not 
very probable,) or whether Dionysius or the Church 
of Rome curtailed this council, it will still appear evi- 
dent that this boldness in exscinding or making addi- 
tions to ecclesiastical writings, is not at all a modern 
invention. After the canons of Constantinople, there 
follow, in the Greek code, eight canons of the general 
council of Ephesus, set down also both by Balsamon 
and Zonaras, and printed with the acts of the said 
council of Ephesus, in the first volume of the Roman 
edition. But Dionysius Exiguus has discarded them 
all, not giving us any one of them: and you will 
hardly be able to give a probable guess what his rea- 
son should be, unless perhaps it were because the 
business of the eighth canon displeased him ; which 
is, that the bishops of Cyprus had their ordinations 
within themselves, without admitting the patriarch of 
Antioch to have anything to do with it; and that the 
same course ought to be observed in all other provinces 


and dioceses; so that no bishop should have power to 
intrude into a province which had not from the begin- 
ning been under his and his predecessor's jurisdiction: 
" For fear, that under the pretence of the administra- 
tion of sacred offices, the pride of a secular power 
should thrust itself into the Church; and by this 
means we should lose," say these good Fathers, " by 
little and little, before we were aware, the liberty that 
our Lord Jesus Christ hath purchased for us with his 
own blood."* 

I know not, whether this constitution, and these 
words, have put the Latins into any fright or not; or 
whether any other reason has induced them not to 
receive the canons of the council of Ephesus into their 
code. But this is certain that they do not appear any 
where among them ; and it is now at the least seven 
hundred and fifty years and upward, that Anastasius 
Bibliothecarius,t the Pope's library -keeper, testified, 
that these canons were not any where to be found in 
the most ancient Latin copies ; accusing moreover the 
Greeks of having forged them. Let them settle this 
dispute among themselves. Whether these canons 
were forged by the Greeks; or whether they have 
been blotted out of this council, by the Latins; it is 
still a clear case, that the cheat is very near eight 
hundred years standing. But in the next example 
that follows, the business is evidently clear. For 
whereas the Greek code, Num. 206, sets before us, 
in the 28th canon of the general council of Chalcedon, 
a decree of those Fathers, by which, conformably to 
the first council of Constantinople, they ordained, that 
" seeing the city of Constantinople was the seat of the 
senate, and of the empire, and enjoyed the same pri- 
vileges with the city of Rome; therefore it should in 
like manner be advanced to the same height and great- 
ness in ecclesiastical affairs, being the second church 
in order, after Rome : and that the bishop of it should 

* 'ivat /u» tcdv Trctrepuv oi kclvgvz; 7ritp*fixivavToLt, /un£z \v upcupying TTPOT^Yi- 
/u,a.n, z%ou(rtdLs kot/uukhs <Tvqos 7raf>}i<r£vnTcu (uw£i XctQoojuiv tw ikiuQiptetv Kctra. 

/UlKpQV, U7r0kM-CtVT6i; h H/UIV \ftophTdUTQ Tft) /<f ft) CLlfAdLTl KvpiO; t)JUW ^HTGVS 

X^o-to?.— Concil. Eph. Can. 8. qui in 7. Gr. est 178. Cod. Can. Eccl. 
t Anastas. Biblioth. Praef. in Synod. 8. torn. 3. Concil. Gen. 


have the ordaining of Metropolitans in the three dio- 
ceses of Pontus, Asia, and Thrace."* 

This canon is found both in Balsamon and Zon- 
aras ; and has also the testimony of the greatest part 
of the ecclesiastical historians, both Greek and Latin, 
that it is a legitimate canon of the council of Chalce- 
don; in the acts of which council, at this day also 
extant, it is set down at large: yet, notwithstanding, 
in the collection of Dionysius Exiguus this canon 
appears not at all, no more than if there had never 
been any such thing thought of at Chalcedon. We 
know very well, that Pope Leo and some others of 
his successors rejected it; but he that promised us 
that he would make an orderly digest of the canons 
of the councils, and translate them out of the Greek; 
why or how did he, or ought he, to omit this so re- 
markable a canon? If all other evidences had been 
lost, how should we have been able so much as to 
have guessed that any such thing was ever treated of 
at Chalcedon? Where, or by what means, could we 
have learned what the opinion was of the six hun- 
dred and thirty Fathers, who met there together res- 
pecting this point, which is the most important one 
of all those that are at this day controverted among 
us? It is now eleven hundred years and upward, 
since this omission was first made. And who will 
pass his word to us, that among so many other wri- 
tings, whether of councils or particular men's works, 
whether Greek or Latin, similar liberty has not been 
at any time used ? Rather by these forgeries which 
have come to our knowledge, who can doubt but that 
there have been many others of the same kind, which 
we are ignorant of? You have gone along innocently 
perhaps, reading these books of the ancients, and 
believing you there find the pure sense of antiquity; 
and yet you see here, that from the beginning of the 
sixth century they have made no scruple of cutting 

* Thv QdLTixiicL Kcti o-vyKMTU) TijuyiQeio-zv 7roK(Vy x&i tcdv \vw a7roha.vcu<rav 

/uiycLhuvurBaLt 7rf>xyjua<n, S'twrepzv juir J wuvw u7ra.f)%Quactv. — Cone. Chalc. 
Can. 28. Cod. Grrec. Eccl. Univ. 206. 


off, from the most sacred books they had, whatsoever 
was not agreeable to the taste of the times. And 
therefore, though we had no more against them than 
this, it were, in my judgment, a sufficient reason to 
induce us to go on here very warily, and, as they say, 
with a tight rein, through this whole business. 

In the next place there is a very observable cor- 
ruption in the epistle of Adrian I. to the Emperor 
Constantine, in the time of the second council of 
Nice.* For in the Latin collection of Anastasius, 
made about seven hundred and fifty years since, 
Adrian is there made to speak very highly and mag- 
nificently of the supremacy of his see ; and he rebukes 
the Greeks very shrewdly, for having conferred upon 
Tarasius, the patriarch of Constantinople, the title of 
Universal Bishop ; and all this while there is not so 
much as one word of this to be found either in the Greek 
edition of the said seventh council, nor yet in the com- 
mon Latin ones. The Romanists accuse the Greeks of 
having suppressed these two clauses ; and the Greeks 
again accuse the Romanists of having foisted them 
in: neither is it easy to determine on which side the 
guilt lies. However, it is sufficient for me, that where- 
soever the fault lies, it evidently appears hence, 
that this curtailing and adding to authors, according 
to the interest of the present times, has now a very 
long time been in practice amongst Christians. It 
appears also very evidently, in the next piece follow- 
ing in the same council, namely, the Epistle of Adrian 
to Tarasius, that it is quite another thing in the Greek 
from what it is in Anastasius's Latin translation; and 
that in points too of as high importance as those others 
before mentioned. So in the fifth act likewise, where 
both in the Greek text, and also in the old Latin 
translation, Tarasius is called Universal Bishop,t this 
title appears not at all in Anastasius's translation. 

In the same act the Fathers accuse the IconoclastsJ 
of having cut many leaves out of a certain book in 
the library at Constantinople ; and that at a certain 

* Concil. 7, Act. 2, torn. 3, Concil. 

t Concil. 7, Act 5, torn. 3, Cone. t lb. p. 557. 


city called Photia, they had burned to the number of 
thirty volumes; that besides this, they had erased the 
annotations out of a certain book; and all this out of 
the malice they bore against images, of which these 
books spoke well and favourably. 

Yet I do not see how we can excuse the Romanists 
from being guilty of corrupting Anastasius in those 
passages above noted; nor yet of the injury they do 
Eusebius, in the exposition which they give of cer- 
tain words of his, only to render him odious ; object- 
ing against him, because he says, that "the carnal 
form of Jesus Christ was changed into the nature of 

the Deity:" — -Ore. f4,sl£i5%yj$rj q evaapxo$ avtov juop^ sl$ 

triv ir\$ 6*101*1*0$ tyvtiv. Whereas all that he says is, 
"that it was changed by the Deity dwelling in it:" 

oy £vtiapxo$ avrov floppy Ttpo$ tys ivoixovtiqs avtrj dsiotTjIo^ 

Hence it appears how much credit we are to give 
to these men, when they instance here and there 
divers strange and unheard of pieces; and on the 
contrary scornfully reject whatever their adversaries 
bring; as, for example, that remarkable passage 
quoted by them out of Epiphanius; which passage 
they refused as supposititious: "Because, (said they,) 
if Epiphanius had been of the same judgment with 
the Iconoclasts, he would then in his Panarium have 
reckoned the reverencing of images among the other 
heresies :" El tqv tw fcSuAcov 7toirjaw avkotpi&v tov Xpccr- 

fov syvvut6xsv 9 sl$ fov apiOfxov tfcov alpetietov tavtrjv xafsta^ev 

May not a man, by the same reason, as well con- 
clude that Epiphanius was a favourer of the Icono- 
clasts? for otherwise he would have included their 
doctrine among the rest of the heresies enumerated 
by him. I shall not here say any thing of their re- 
fusing so boldly and confidently those passages quoted 
from Theodotus Ancyranus, and others. Since that 
time you will find nothing more common in the 
books both of the Greeks and the Latins, than the like 
reproaches, that they mutually cast upon each other, 

* Concil. 7, Act. 6, advers. Synod. Iconocl. Sect. 5. 
t lb. p. 616. 


of having corrupted the writings and evidences where- 
in their cause was the most concerned. As, for exam- 
ple, at the council of Florence;* Mark, bishop of 
Ephesus, disputing concerning the procession of the 
Holy Ghost, had nothing to answer to two passages 
that were alleged against him, (the one out of that 
piece of Epiphanius which is intitled Jlnchoratus, 
the other out of Basil's writings against Eunomius,) 
but that "that piece of Epiphanius had been long 
since corrupted," (tcvto to ptfavov iatc hi^Oa^^vov npo 
7to%%cov xpovw.) and so likewise of that other passage 
out of Basil, that " some one or other who favoured 
the opinion of the Latins, had accommodated it to 
their views:" moreover protesting,t that in all Con- 
stantinople there were but four copies of the said 
book that had that passage quoted by the Latins; 
but that there were in the said city above a thousand 
other copies wherein those words were not to be 
found at all. 

The Latins had nothing to retort upon them more 
readily than that it had been the ordinary practice, 
not of the West but of the East, to corrupt books ; 
and for proof thereof, they cite a passage out of Cyril, 
which we have heretofore noticed : where, notwith- 
standing, he says not anything but of the heretics, 
(that is, the Nestorians,) who were said to have 
falsified the epistle of Athanasius to Epictetus; but 
not a word there of all the Eastern men, much less of 
the whole Greek Church. The Greeks then retorted 
upon the Latins the story of Pope Zosimus, mentioned 
in the preceding chapter. Thus did they unceremoni- 
ously assail each other, having, as may be easily per- 
ceived, much more appearance of reason and of truth 
in their accusation of their adversaries, than in excus- 
ing or defending themselves. 

I shall here also give you another similar answer, 
made by one Gregorius, a Greek monk, a strong main- 
tainer of the union made at Florence, to a passage 
cited by Mark, bishop of Ephesus, out of a certain 
book of John Damascene; affirming that " the Father 
* Concil. Florent. Act. 18, torn. 4, Cone. t lb. Act. 20. 



only is the cause," to wit, in the Trinity.* " These 
words (saith this monk) are not found in any of the 
ancient copies," which is an evident argument, that 
it had been afterwards foisted in by the Greeks, to 
bring over this doctor to their opinion. Petavius has 
in like manner lately rid himself of an objection, taken 
out of the sixty-eighth canon of the Apostles, against 
the fasting on Saturdays, which is observed in the 
Romish Church, pretending that the Greeks have fal- 
sified this canon.t 

But whosoever desires to see how full of uncer- 
tainty the writings of this later antiquity are, let him 
but read the eighth council, which is pretended by the 
Western church to be a general council, and but com- 
pare the Latin and the Greek copies together; — taking 
especial notice also of the preface of Anastasius Bibli- 
othecarius; who (after he has very sharply reproved 
the ambition of the Greeks, and accused the canons 
which they produce of the third general council as 
forged and supposititious,) to make short work with 
them says, in plain terms, that the Greeks have cor- 
rupted all the councils except the first. 

What then have we now left us to build upon, see- 
ing that this corruption has prevailed even as far as on 
the councils, which are the very heart of the ancient 
monuments of the Church? Nor yet has the Nicene 
creed, which has been approved and made sacred in 
so many general councils, been able to escape these 
alterations. Not to say anything of these expressions, 
which are of little importance, de coelis, from heaven; 
secundum Scripturas, according to the Scriptures; 
Deum de Deo, God of God; which cardinal Julian 
affirmed at the council of Florence J were to be found 
in some creeds, and in some others were not : it is 
now the space of some ages past, since the Eastern 
church accused the Western of having added Filioque 
(and the Son) in the article on the procession of the 
Holy Ghost : the Western men as senselessly charg- 

* Apol. Gregor. Mon. Protosyn. contra Ep. Marc. Eph. in torn. 4. 

t Petavius Not. in Epiphan. X Concil. Flor. Sess. 12. 


ing upon them again, that they have cut it off;* 
which is an alteration, though but trivial in appear- 
ance, of vast importance to both sides, for the decision 
of that great controversy which has hitherto caused a 
separation betwixt them ; namely, " Whether or not 
the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Son as well as from 
the Father:" which is an evident argument, that 
either the one or the other of them has, out of a desire 
to do service to their own side, laid false hands upon 
this sacred piece. 

Now whatever has been attempted in this kind by 
the ancients, may well pass for innocence, if compared 
with what these later times have dared to do : their 
passion being of late years so much heated, that, lay- 
ing all reason and honesty aside, they have most 
miserably and shamelessly corrupted all kinds of 
books and of authors. Of those men that go so des- 
perately to work, we cannot certainly speak of their 
baseness as it deserves: and in my judgment, Lau- 
rentius Bochellus, in his preface to the Decreta Ec- 
clesise Gal/icanse, had all the reason in the world to 
detest these men, as " people of a most wretched and 
malicious spirit, who have most miserably mutilated 
an infinite number of authors, both sacred and pro- 
fane, ancient and modern; their ordinary custom being 
to spare no person, no not kings ; nor even St. Louis 
himself; out of whose Pragmatica Sanctio (as they 
call it) they have blotted out certain articles (princi- 
pally those which concerned the state of France,) 
from that library of the Fathers, the Constitut tones 
Begise, and others also from the Synodical Decrees of 
certain Bishops, lately printed at Paris. Wo, wo, (to 
speak with the prophet) to these mischievous knaves 
who do not only lay such treacherous snares for the 
venerable chastity and integrity of the Muses, but do 
also most impudently and wickedly deflower, under a 
false and counterfeit pretence of religion, even the 
Muses themselves, accounting this juggling to be but 
a kind of pious fraud."t 

* Concil. Flor. Ses. 4 et. 5, et Concil. 7, Act. 7, quo loco videnda 
an not. marg. 
t Taceo innumeros auctores sacros, profanos, veteres, recentiores 


We do not here write against these men; it is suffi- 
cient for us to give a hint only of that which is as 
clear as the sun; namely, that they have altered and 
corrupted, by their additions in some places, and cur- 
tailing in others, very many of the evidences of the 
ancient belief. These are they, who in this part of 
the twelfth epistle of Cyprian, written to the peo- 
ple of Carthage — " I desire that they would but 
patiently hear our council, &c. that our fellow bishops 
being assembled together with us, we may together 
examine the letters and desires of the blessed martyrs, 
according to the doctrine of our Lord, and in the 
presence of the confessors, et secundum vestram 
quoque sententiam, (and according as you also shall 
think convenient)"* — have maliciously left out these 
words, et secundum vestram quoque sententiam: 
by which we may plainly understand, that these men 
would not by any means have us know, that the 
faithful people had ever anything to do with, or had 
any vote in, the affairs of the Church. These are the 
same, who, in his fortieth epistle, have changed 
Petram into Petrum;X (a Bock into Peter;) and 

ab istis tarn improbi quam infoelicis ingenii hominibus miserabiliter 
decurtatos, vel ipsis regibus parcere non assuetis, nedum S. Ludo- 
vico, cujus Pragmatica (ut vocant) Sanctionis articulos nonnullos, 
maxime ad rei Gallicae statum pertinentes, abs bibliotheca ilia SS. 
PP. Constitutionibus Regiis ; et statutis Episcoporum quorundam 
Synodalibus reginae urbium Lutetian nuper impressis, expunxerunt. 
Vae, iterum vae, ut cum Vidente exclamem, nebulonibus, qui tales 
Musarum castitati et integritati venerandae non solum insidias stru- 
unt, sed et Musas ipsas impudenter, et nequiter subdolo religionis 
zelo, nullius frontis homines devirginant, fucumque istum pietatis 
nomen ementitum, inter pias fraudes numerant. — Laur. Bochel. Pra- 
fat. in decret. Eccles. Gal. 

* Audiant quaeso patienter consilium nostrum ; expectent regres- 
sionem nostram, ut cum ad vos per Dei misericordiam venerimus, 
convocati coepiscopi plures secundum Domini doctrinam, et confes- 
sorum praesentiam, beatorum Martyrum literas et desideria examinare 
possimus. {Cypr. Ep. 12. Extr.)— Cypr. Pamel. et Gryph. Lugd. an. 
1537, 1. 3, ep. 16, p. 148 ; aliae editiones, ut Manutii, item Morelli, 
Par. an. 1564, p. 158, legunt " secundum vestram quoque senten- 

t Cathedra una super Petrum Domini voce fundata. (Cypr. Pamel. 
Epist. 40, p. 76.)— Gryph. an. 1537, p. 52, Morel, an. 1564, p. 124, 
habebant super Petram, 


who, following the steps of the ancient corrupters, 
have foisted into his tract De Unit ate Ecclesise, 
wherever they thought fit, whole periods and sen- 
tences, against the faith of the best and most uncor- 
rupted manuscripts: as, for example in this place; 
" He built his Church on Him alone, (Peter,) and 
commanded him to feed his sheep;* and in this; " He 
established one sole chair :"t and this other; "The 
primacy was given to Peter, to show that there was 
but one church, and one chair of Christ: J and this; 
" Who left the chair to Peter, on which he had built 
his church."§ These being additions which every 
one may see the object of. 

These are the men who cannot conceal the regret 
they have for not having suppressed an epistle of Fir- 
milianus, archbishop of Csesarea in Cappadocia, who 
was one of the most eminent persons of his time ; 
which epistle Manutius had indeed omitted in his 
Roman edition of Cyprian ;|| but was afterwards 
inserted by Morellius in his, amongst the epistles of 
Cyprian, to whom it was written; and all because it 
informs us how the other bishops in ancient times 
had dealt with the Pope. Thus we may hence 
observe of what temper these men have always been, 
and may guess how many similar pieces have been 
killed in the nest. Out of the like store-house it is, 
that poor Ambrose is sent abroad, but so ill accoutred, 
and in so pitiful a plight, that Nicolas Faber has very 

* Super ilium unum aedificat Ecclesiam suam, et ill! pascendas 
mandat oves suas. (Cypr. Pamel. p. 254.) — Quae verba desiderantur 
in edit. Gryph. anno 1537, et Morel, anno. 1564. 

t Unam cathedram constituit. (Cypr. Pamel. ibid.) — Quae verba 
desiderabantur in editione Gryphii, anno 1537, et Morel, anno 1564. 

I Primatus Petro datur, ut una Ecclesia Christi, et cathedra una 
monstretur; et pastores sunt omnes; sed unus grex ostenditur, qui 
ab Apostolis omnibus unanimi consensione pascatur. (Cypr. Pamel. 
ibid. — Quae verba omnia, exceptis illis (ut una Ecclesia monstretur) 
non habebantur in edit. Gryph. neque Morel, uti sup. 

§ Qui cathedram Petri super quam fundata est Ecclesia. (Cypr. 
Pamel. p. 254.) — Absunt a Gryph. et Morel, edit. 

II Atque adeo fortassis consultius foret, nunquam editam fuisse 
hanc epistolam; ita ut putem, consulto illam omisisse Manutium. — 
Pamel. in arg. ep. 75. Cypr, 


much bewailed the corruption of him.* For those 
gentlemen who have published him being over inge- 
nious (as he saith) in another man's works, have 
changed, mangled, and transposed divers things: and 
especially have they separated the books of the " In- 
terpellation of Job, and of David," which were put 
together in all other editions; and to do this they 
have, by no very commendable example, foisted in 
and altered divers things: and they have likewise 
done as much in the " First Apology of David;" and 
more yet in the second ; where they have erased out 
of the eighth chapter five or six lines which are found 
in all the ancient editions of this Father.t They have 
also attributed to this author certain tracts which are 
not his; as that "Of 'the forbidden Tree;" and that 
other, upon the last chapter of the Proverbs. We 
may, by the way, also take notice, that this is the 
edition which they followed, who printed Ambrose's 
works at Paris, anno 1603. They were such hands 
as these that so villainously curtailed the book " Of 
the Lives of the Popes," written by Anastasius, or 
rather by Damasus; leaving out, in the very entry of 
it, the author's epistle dedicatory, written to Jerome, 
because it did not so well suit with the present temper 
of Rome ; omitting, in like manner, in the life of Peter, 
the passage which I shall here quote as it is found in 
all manuscripts: " He consecrated St. Clement Bishop, 
and committed to his charge the ordering of his seat, 
or of the whole Church, saying, As the power of 
binding, and loosing, was delivered to me by my 
Lord Jesus Christ; in like manner do I commit to thy 
charge the appointing of such persons as may deter- 
mine such ecclesiastical causes as may arise; that thou 
thyself mayest not be taken up with worldly cares, 
but mayest apply thy whole studies only to prayer, 
and preaching to the people. After he had thus dis- 
posed of his seat, he was crowned with martyrdom." J 

* Nic. Faber, in ep. ad Front. Dueaeum in Opusc. p. 216. 

t Nich. Faber, ibid. p. 215. 

X Hie. B. Clementem Episcopum consecravit, eique cathedram, vel 
ecclesiam omnem disponendam commisit, dicens : Sicut mihi guber- 
nandi tradita est a Domino meo Jesu Christo potestas ligandi solven- 


This is the testament that Peter made ; but it has been 
suppressed and kept from us, because in it he has 
charged his successors with such duties as are quite 
contrary both to their humour and practice. In 
another place, in the same book, instead of Papa 
Urbis (that is to say, " the Pope or Bishop of the 
city," namely, of Rome, as all manuscripts have it) 
these worthy gentlemen will needs have us read Papa 
Orbis, that is, "the Bishop of the whole world :"* 
inasmuch as this is now the style of the court, and 
this has long since become the title of the bishop of 

These are the men, who in Fulbertus, bishop of 
Chartres,t (where he cites that remarkable passage of 
Augustine, " This then is a figure commanding us to 
communicate of the passion of the Lord,") have in- 
serted these words, "Figura ergo est, dicet haereti- 
cus:" (It is a figure then, will a heretic say:) cun- 
ningly making us believe this to be the saying of a 
heretic, which was indeed the true sense and mean- 
ing of Augustine himself, and so cited by Fulbertus. 
These are the very men also, who in St. Gregory 
have changed exercitus sacerdotum into exitus sacer- 
dotum; reading, in the 38th epistle of his fourth book, 
thus : " All things, &c. which have been foretold, are 
accomplished. The king of pride (he speaks of Anti- 
christ) is at hand; and, which is horrible to be spoken, 
the failing (or end) of priests is prepared: whereas the 
manuscripts (and it is so cited by Bellarmine too) 
read, " An army of priests is prepared for him."f 

dique; ita et ego tibi committo, ut ordines dispositores diversarum 
causarum, per quos actus ecclesiasticus profligetur; et tu minime in 
curis seculi deditus reperiaris, sed solummodo ad orationem, et praedi- 
cationem populi vacare stude. Post hanc dispositionem Martyrio 
coronatur. — Habentur hasc ex Euchar. Salm. ad Sirmond. cap. 5. 
Editio Par. anno 1621, p. 664. 

* Dei ordinante providentia Papa Orbis consecratus est. (Anastaa. 
in Stephano v. p. 215.) — MSS. habent, Papa Urbis : ex Salm. in 
Euchar. ad Sirmond. pag. 464. 

t Vid. Fulbert. Carnot. Edit, a Villerio, anno 1608, Par. p. 168. 

t Omnia, &c. quae praedicta sunt, fiunt. Rex Superbiae prope est; 
et quod dici nefas est, Sacerdotum ei praeparatur exitus. (Gregor M. 
ep. 1. 4. ep. 38.) — MSS. habent, * Sacerdotum ei praeparatur exercitus :' 


These are they who have made Aimoinus to say, 
that the Fathers of the pretended eighth general coun- 
cil * had ordained the adoration of images, according 
as had been before determined by the orthodox doc- 
tors :" whereas he wrote quite contrary, " that they 
had ordained otherwise than had been formerly de- 
termined by the orthodox doctors ;" as appears plainly, 
not only by the manuscripts, but also by the most 
ancient editions of this author; and even by Card. 
Baronius, quoting this passage also, in the tenth tome 
of his Annals, anno Domini 869.* 

These are they who have entirely erased this fol- 
lowing passage out of (Ecumenius : " For they who 
defended and favoured the law, introduced also the 
worshipping of angels; and that, because the law had 
been given by them. And this custom continued long 
in Phrygia, insomuch that the council of Laodicea 
made a decree, forbidding to make any addresses to 
angels, or to pray to them: whence also it is that we 
find many temples among them erected to Michael 
the Archangel/' t 

This passage David Hoeschelius, in his notes upon 
the books of Origen against Celsus, p. 483, witnesses 
that he himself had seen and read in the manuscripts 
of (Ecumenius; and yet there is no such thing to be 
found in any of the printed copies. Who would be- 
lieve but that the Breviaries and Missals should have 
escaped their pruning-knife? Yet, as it has been 
observed by persons of eminent learning and honesty, 
where it was read, in the collect on St. Peter's day 
heretofore thus: "Deus, qui B. Petro Apostolo tuo, 

ex Tho. James, in Vindic. Gregor. loc. 666 ; quomodo citatur etiam 
a Bellarmino hie locus, lib. 3. de Rom. Pont. c. 13. Sect. Addit. et 
extr. c. Sect, pari ratione. 

* In qua Synodo, (quam Octavam Universalem illuc convenientes 
appellarunt) de imaginibus adorandis, secundum quod orthodoxi doc- 
tores antea definierant, statuerunt. (Aimon. de Gest. Franc, lib. 5, c. 
8.) — Legendum; " Aliter quam orthodoxi definierant ; sic enim legit 
ipse Baron. Annal. torn. 10. an. 869. 

t Oj yap rce vc/uoo <ruvhycpcvvTz;, kcli tcu? ayyikevs o-efiuv tWnyovvTOy on eft' 
awrw Kan b vg/ucg zfoQu. y E/uuvi h rovro kata Qpvytav to g6o?, U x*4 rnv iv 
AaLcftKZia trvvcfov vcjuop KooMo-au to 7rpco~izveu &yytKois y ksu Trpoo-tv^j^cti a<p y QU 
kcu v&ot nap' dvToig Toy dp^io-rpaLTHyou Mi%&»\ 7ro\\oi. 


collatis clavibus regni coelestis, animas ligandi, et sol- 
vendi Pontificium tradidisti:" (that is, God, who 
hast committed to thy Apostle St. Peter, by giving 
him the keys of the heavenly kingdom, the episcopal 
power of binding and loosing souls:*) in the later 
editions of these Breviaries and Missals, they have 
wholly left out the word animas (souls;) to the end 
that people should not think that the Pope's authority 
extended only to spiritual affairs, and not to temporal 
also. So likewise in the Gospel upon the Tuesday 
following the Third Sunday in Lent, they have print- 
ed, "Dixit Jesus discipulis suis;"t (that is, "Jesus 
said to his disciples ;") whereas it was in the old 
books, " Respiciens Jesus in discipulos dixit Simoni 
Petro, Si peccaverit in te frater tuus:";j: (Jesus, look- 
ing back upon his disciples, said unto Simon Peter, 
If thy brother have offended against thee, &c.,) cun- 
ningly omitting those words relating to Simon Peter, 
for fear it might be thought that our Saviour Christ 
had made St. Peter, that is to say, the Pope, subject 
to the tribunal of the Church to which he there sends 

If the council of Trent would but have hearkened 
to Thomas Passio, a canon of Valencia, they should 
have blotted out of the Pontifical all such passages as 
make any mention of the people's giving their suf- 
frage and consent in the ordination of the ministers 
of the Church : and, among the rest, that where the 
bishop, at the ordination of a priest, saith, "That it was 
not without good reason, that the Fathers had ordain- 
ed that the advice of the people should be taken in 
the election of those persons who were to serve at the 
altar; to the end that having given their assent to 
their ordination, they might the more readily yield 
obedience to those who were so ordained."§ The 

* Simon Vigor. 1. 1. de la Monarch. Ecclesiastique, ch. 1. F. Paolo 
di Vinet Apol. contr. Bellarm. Sic legitur in Brev. Clement, viii. jussu 
recognitis, p. 937. 

t Sic legitur in Breviar. Clem. viii. jussu recogn. p. 369. 

X Sic legebatur in Brev. imprcs. Paris. 1492, per Jo. de Prato. 

§ Neque enim fuit frustra a patribus institutum, ut de electione 
illorum, qui ad regimen altaris adhibendi sunt, consulatur etiam 


meaning of this honest canon was, that to take away 
all such authorities from the heretics, the best way 
would be to blot them all out of the Pontifical ; to the 
end that there might be no trace or footstep of them 
left remaining for the future. 

They have not, however, contented themselves with 
merely corrupting in this manner certain books, out of 
which perhaps we might have been able to discover 
what the opinion and sense of the ancients has been:* 
but they have also wholly abolished a very great num- 
ber of others. And for the better understanding of 
this, we should notice that the emperors of the first 
ages took all possible care to suppress and abolish all 
such writings as were declared prejudicial to the true 
faith; as the books of the Arians and Nestorians and 
others; which were forbidden to be read under a 
great penalty, but were to be wholly suppressed and 
abolished by the appointment of these ancient princes. 

The Church itself also sometimes called in the books 
of such persons as had been dead long before, by the 
common consent of the Catholic party, as soon as 
they perceived any thing in them that was not con- 
sonant to the present opinion of the Church : as it did 
at the fifth general council,! in the business of Theo- 
doras, Theodoretus, and Ibas, all three bishops, the 
one of Mopsuestia, the other of Cyrus, and the third 
of Edessa: anathematizing each of their several wri- 
tings, notwithstanding these persons had been all dead 
long before: dealing also, even in the quiet times of 
the Church, with Origen in the same manner, after 
he had been dead about three hundred years. J 

The Pope hath not failed to imitate, for the space 
of many ages, both the one and the other of these 
rigorous courses; increasing moreover the harshness 
of them from time to time: insomuch that, in case 

populus ; qui de vita et conversatione praesentandi, quod nonnun- 
quam ignoratur a pluribus, scitur a paucis ; et necesse est, et facilius 
ei quis obedientiam exhibeat ordinato, cui assensum prsebuerit ordi- 
nando. — Pontif. Rom. de Ordinat. Presbyt. fol. 33. 

* Pet. Soave, Hist. Concil. Trident. 1. 7. 

t Cone. 5. Col. 8. t Id. Col. 5. et Col. 8. Anath. 11. 


any of the opinions of the ancients has been by chance 
found at any time to contradict his, there is no doubt 
but that he has very carefully and diligently suppress- 
ed such writings, without sparing any, more than the 
others, though they were written perhaps two, three, 
four, or five hundred years before. As for example, 
it is at this time disputed, whether or not the primi- 
tive Church had in their temples, and worshipped, 
the images of Christ and of saints. This controversy 
has been sometimes very' warmly, and with much 
heat, and for a long time together, disputed in the 
Greek Church. That party which maintained the 
affirmative, bringing the business before the seventh 
council held at Nicaea,* it was there ordained, that 
it should be unlawful for any man to have the books 
of the other party, and charging every man to bring 
what books they had of that party to the patriarch of 
Constantinople, to do with them, as we may ima- 
gine, according as had been required by the legates 
of Pope Adrian; that is, "That they should burn 
all those books which had been written against the 
venerable images:"! including no doubt, within the 
same condemnation, all such writings of the ancients 
as seemed not to favour images; as the epistle of Eu- 
sebius to Constantia ; and that of Epiphanius to John 
of Jerusalem, and others which are not now extant, 
but were in all probability at that time abolished. 
As for the epistle of Epiphanius, that which we 
now have is only Jerome's translation of it, which 
happened to be preserved in the western parts, where 
the feeling in behalf of images was much less violent 
than it was in the eastern : but the original Greek of 
it is no where to be found. Adrian II. in his coun- 
cil ordained, in like manner, that the council held by 
Photius against the Church of Rome should be burnt, 
together with his other books, and all the books of 
those of his party which had been written against the 
see of Rome : and he commanded the very same thing 

* Concil. 7, Act. 8, Can. 9. 

t Ivct irnvrsi <tcl <rvyypx./u/ua.raL ret k±<ta ra>v <re7rrtov itaovaov yevcjuevat /uirct 
avzQzjuoLrtcrjucv \ti&vScc?iv, h roe ttupi 7ra.f>aJoQa?i. — Idem. Act. 5. 


also in the eighth council, which is accounted by the 
Latins for a general council.* 

It is impossible but that in these fires very many 
works must needs have perished that might have been 
of great use to us for discovering what the opinion of 
the ancients was, whether respecting images, which 
was the business of the seventh council; or that other 
controversy respecting the power of the Pope, which 
was the principal point debated in the synod held by 
Photius; some of whose writings, for the self-same 
reason, they at this day keep at Rome under lock and 
key; which doubtless they would long ere this have 
published, had they but told as much for the Pope as 
in all probability they tell against him. This rigorous 
proceeding against books at length arrived to such a 
height, that Leo X., at the council of Lateran, which 
broke up in the year 1518, decreed, "that no book 
should be printed but what had first been diligently 
examined at Rome by the Master of the Palace, in 
other places by the bishop, or some other person de- 
puted by him for the same purpose, and by the 
Inquisitor, under this penalty, That all booksellers 
offending herein should forfeit their books, which 
should be burnt in public, and should pay a hundred 
ducats, when it should be demanded, towards the 
fabric of St. Peter, (a kind of punishment this, which 
we find no example of in all the canons of the ancient 
Church;) and should also be suspended from exer- 
cising his function, for the space of a whole year."t 

This is a general sentence, and which comprehends 
as well the works of the Fathers as of any others; as 
appears plainly by this, that the bishop of Malfi, hav- 
ing given in his opinion, saying, that he concurred 
with them in relation to new authors but not to the 
old, all the rest of the Fathers voted simply for all; J 
neither was there any limitation at all added to this 
decree of the council. This very decree has been 

* Cap. 1. habetur in Concil. 8. Act. 7. Ibid. Act. 1. in Ep. Adriani. 

t Cone. Later, sub Leone X. Sess. 10. 

t Responderunt omnes placere, excepto R. P. D. Alexio, episcopo 
Melfitano, qui dixit, Placere de novis operibus, non autem de anti- 
quis. — Ibid, 


since strongly confirmed by the council of Trent,* 
which appointed also certain persons to take a review 
of the books and censures, and to make a report of 
them to the company, " to the end that there might 
be a separation made between the good grain of 
Christian verity and the tares of strange doctrines :"t 
that is, in plain terms, that they might suppress in all 
kinds of books whatever relished not well with the 
taste of the Church of Rome. But these Fathers, 
having not the leisure themselves to look to this pious 
work, appointed certain commissaries who should 
give an account of this matter to the Pope :J whence, 
afterwards it came to pass, that first Pope Pius IV. 
and afterwards Sixtus V. and Clement VIII. pub- 
lished certain rules and indexes of such authors and 
books as they thought fit should be either quite abol- 
ished or purged only, and have given such strict order 
for the printing of books, as that in those countries 
where this order is observed, there is little danger that 
ever any thing should be published, that is either 
contrary to the doctrine of the Church of Rome, or 
which advances any thing in favour of their adver- 

All these instructions, which are too long to be in- 
serted here, may be seen at the end of the council of 
Trent where they are usually given at full. To en- 
force these rules they have put forth their Indices 
Expurgatorii (as they call them;) namely, that of 
the Low Countries, and of Spain and other places ; 
where these men sit in judgment upon all kinds of 
books, erasing and altering, as they please, periods, 
chapters, and often whole treatises, and that too in 
the works of those men who for the most part were 
born, and educated, and died also, in the communion 
of their own Church. 

If the Church, eight or nine hundred years since, 
had razors sharp as these men now have, it is then a 

* Concil. Trid. Sess. 5. Decreto de Edit, et usu Saeror.libr. 
t Quo facilius ipsa possit varias et peregrinas doctrinas, tanquam 
zizania, a Christian© veritatis tritieo separare. — Idem, Sess. 18. 
X Concil. Trident. Sess. 25. decreto de Indice libr. 


vain thing for us to search any higher what the judg- 
ment of the primitive Christians was on any particu- 
lar point : for whatsoever it was, it could not have 
escaped the hands of such masters. And if the ancient 
Church had not heretofore any such institution as this, 
why then do we, who pretend to be such observers 
of antiquity, practise these novelties? I know very 
well that those men make profession of reforming 
only the writings of the moderns : but who sees not 
that this is but a cloak which they throw over them- 
selves, lest they should be accused as guilty of the 
same cruelty that Jupiter is among the poets, for hav- 
ing behaved himself so insolently to his own father? 
Those pieces which they erase so scrupulously from 
the books of the moderns, are the cause of the greater 
mischief to themselves, when they are found in the 
writings of the ancients, as sometimes they are. For 
what a senseless thing is it to leave them in where 
they hurt most, and to erase them where they do lit- 
tle harm. 

The inquisition at Madrid* omits these words in 
the index of Athanasius, " Adorari solius Dei est;" 
(that is, God alone is to be worshipped:) 'Ovxow Osov 
tatt, fiovov no TtpoaxvuswOavA and yet, notwithstanding, 
these words are still expressly found in the text of 
Athanasius. The same father saith, " that there were 
some other books, besides those which he had before 
set down, which, in truth, were not of the canon, and 
which the Fathers had ordained should be read to 
those who were newly come into the Christian com- 
munion, and desired to be instructed in the word of 

They reckoned in this number the Wisdom of Solo- 
mon, Ecclesiasticus, Judith, Esther, Tobit, and some 
others. Nevertheless these very censors erased, in the 
index of Athanasius's works, those words which 

* Ind. Expurgat. Sandoval, in Athanas. Ind. 1. 

t Athanas. Orat. 3, contra Arian. 

X 'Ectt* Kctt inpu. (Zifih.HL rowrw l£o)Qzv, ov KAvovi£oju.ivct jaw, frzru7ra>/uevet 
cfs 7TctpA Tojv 7rctrtpa>v avcLyivatT-K&rQsLi rots dpn 7rpo<np%o/u,zvois kai fiouxo/uevoi; 
Kcvrtixua-Qett rov iursfiuets xoyov. — Id. in Frag, et Fest. 


affirm that the said books are not at all canonical. In 
the index of Augustine they erased these words: 
" Christ hath given the sign of his body:" which yet 
are evidently to be seen in the text of this Father, in 
his book against Adimantus, chap. 12.* They erased, 
in like manner, these words : " Augustine accounted 
the Eucharist necessary to be administered to infants :" 
which opinion of Augustine is very frequently found 
expressed either in these very words, or the like, 
throughout his works, as we shall see hereafter. 
They likewise erased these words: " We ought not 
to build temples to angels:" and yet the very text of 
Augustine says, " If we should erect a temple of wood 
or of stone to any of the holy angels, should we not 
be anathematized?"! 

This is the practice of the censors, both in the Low 
Countries and in Spain, in many other particulars, 
which we shall not here notice. Now if you cut off 
such sentences as these from the indexes of these holy 
Fathers, why do you not as well erase them from the 
text also ? Or if you leave them in the one, why do 
you blot them out in the other? What can the mean- 
ing be of so strange a way of proceeding in such wise 
men? Yet who sees not the reason of it ? The sen- 
tences which these men thus boldly and rudely correct, 
are as displeasing to them In the ancients as in the 
moderns ; and where they may safely do it they ex- 
punge them, as well from the one as the other. But 
this they dare not do openly, for fear of incurring 
scandal, which they are willing to avoid; because if 
they should deal so unceremoniously, and take such 
liberty with antiquity, they would destroy that respect 
which all people bear towards it; which being a mat- 
ter that very nearly concerns themselves, it is a special 
point of wisdom in them, carefully to preserve its 
reputation. But in lashing the poor moderns, who 

* Id. in August. 

t Nonne si templum alicui sancto angelo excellentissimo de lignis 
et lapidibus faceremus, anathematizemur a veritate Christi, et ab ec- 
clesia Dei, &c. — Infr. /.I.e. 8. Ind. Exp. Sandov. in August, contr. 
Maxim, lib. 


have made indexes to all the works of the Fathers, 
they save their credit, and do their business too ; ruin- 
ing the opinions which they hate by chastising the 
one, and still preserving the venerable esteem of anti- 
quity, which they cannot exist without, by sparing 
the other. 

I cannot however see why Bertram, a priest, who 
lived in the time of the emperor Charles the Bald, 
which is about seven hundred and fifty years since, 
should be classed among the moderns: and yet his 
book, "De Corpore et Sanguine Domini," is abso- 
lutely, and without any limitation, forbidden to be 
read, in the index of the council of Trent, in the letter 
B, among the authors of the second classis, as they 
call them. But the censors of the Low Countries 
have dealt with him more gently, shall I say, or rather 
more cruelly ; not quite taking his life away, but only 
maiming him in the several parts of his body, and 
leaving him in the like sad condition with Deiphobus 
in the poet : — 

" Lacerum crudeliter ora, 
Ora manusque ambas populataque tempora, raptis 
Auribus, et truncas inhonesto vulnere nares." 

For they have cut off, with one single dash of their 
pen, two long passages, consisting each of them of 
twenty-eight or thirty lines, and which are large 
enough to make up a very considerable part of a small 
treatise, such as his. 

That the reader may the better judge of the busi- 
ness, I shall here extract one of these passages entire 
as it is : 

"We ought further to consider (says Bertram, speak- 
ing of the holy Eucharist) that in this bread is repre- 
sented not only the body of Christ, but the body of 
the people also that believe in Him. And hence it is 
that it is made up of many several grains of wheat, 
because the whole body of believing people is united 
together, and made into one, by the word of Christ. 
And therefore as it is by a mystery that we receive 
this bread for the body of Christ, in like manner it is 
by a mystery also, that the members of the people 


believing in Christ are here figured unto us. As this 
bread is called the body of believers, not corporeally 
but spiritually; so is the body of Christ also neces- 
sarily to be understood as represented here, not cor- 
poreally but spiritually. In like manner is it in the 
wine, which is called the blood of Christ ; and with 
which it is ordained that water be mixed ; it being 
forbidden to offer the one without the other : because 
as the head cannot subsist without the body, nor the 
body without the head ; in like manner neither can the 
people be without Christ, nor Christ without the peo- 
ple. So that in this sacrament the water represents 
the image of the people. If then the wine, after it is 
consecrated by the office of ministers, be corporeally 
changed into the blood of Christ, of necessity then 
must the water also be changed corporeally into the 
body of the believing people: because that where 
there is but one only, and the same sanctification, 
there can be but one and the same operation; and 
where the reason is equal, the mystery also that fol- 
lows it is equal. But as for the water, we see that 
there is no such corporeal change wrought in it : it 
therefore follows that neither in the wine is there any 
corporeal transmutation. Whatsoever then of the 
body of the people is signified unto us, by the water, 
is taken spiritually: it follows therefore necessarily 
that we must, in like, manner, take spiritually what- 
soever the wine represents unto us of the blood of 
Christ. Again, those things, which differ among them- 
selves, are not the same. Now the body of Christ which 
died, and was raised up to life again, dies no more, 
having become immortal; and death having no more 
power over it, it is eternal and free from further suf- 
fering. But this, which is consecrated in the Church, 
is temporal, not eternal; corruptible, not free from 
corruption; in its journey, and not in its native coun- 
try. These two things therefore are different, one 
from the other, and consequently cannot be one and 
the same thing. And if they be not one and the same 
thing, how can any man say that this is the real body 



and real blood of Christ? If it be the body of Christ, 
and if it may be truly said that this body of Christ is 
really and truly the body of Christ — the real body of 
Christ being incorruptible and impassible, and there- 
fore eternal; consequently this body of Christ, which 
is consecrated in the Church, must of necessity also 
be both incorruptible and eternal. But it cannot be 
denied but that it doth corrupt, seeing it is cut into 
small pieces and distributed (to the communicants,) 
who bruise it very small with their teeth, and so take 
it down into their body."* 

Thus Bertram. His other passage, which is longer 

* Considerandum quoque, quod in pane illo non solum corpus 
Christi, verum etiam corpus in eum credentis populi figuretur : unde 
multis frumenti granis conficitur, quia corpus populi credentis mul- 
tis per verba Christi fidelibus augmentatur, (al. coagmentatur.) Qua 
de re sicut mysterio panis ille Christi corpus accipitur: sic etiam in 
mysterio membra populi credentis in Christum intimantur. Et sicut 
non corporaliter, sed spiritualiter panis ille credentium corpus dicitur : 
sic quoque Christi corpus non corporaliter sed spiritualiter necesse 
est intelligatur. Sic et in vino, qui sanguis Christi dicitur, aqua 
misceri jubetur, nee unum sine altero permittitur offerri, quia nee po- 
pulus sine Christo, nee Christus sine populo, sicut nee caput sine cor- 
pore, vel corpus sine capite valet existere. Igitur si vinum illud, 
sanctificatum per ministrorum officium, in Christi sanguinem corpo- 
raliter convertitur, aqua quoque, quae pariter admixta est, in sangui- 
nem populi credentis necesse est corporaliter convertatur. Ubi nam- 
que una sanctificatio est, una consequenter operatio ; et ubi par ratio, 
par quoque consequitur mysterium. At videmus in aqua secundum 
corpus nihil esse conversum, consequenter ergo et in vino nihil cor- 
poraliter ostensum. Accipitur spiritualiter quicquid in aqua de po- 
puli corpore significatur ; accipiatur ergo necesse est spiritualiter 
quicquid in vino de Christi sanguine intimatur. Item, quae a se dif- 
ferunt, idem non sunt : corpus Christi, quod mortuum est, et resur- 
rexit, et immortale factum jam non moritur, et mors illi ultra non 
dominabitur, aeternum est, jam non passibile. Hoc autem, quod in 
ecclesia celebratur temporale est, non aeternum ; corruptible est, non 
incorruptibile, in via est, non in patria. Differunt igitur a se qua- 
propter non sunt idem. Quod si non sunt idem, quomodo verum 
corpus Christi dicitur, et verus sanguis ? Si enim corpus Christi est, 
et hoc dicitur vere, quia corpus Christi in veritate corpus Christi est, 
et si in veritate corpus Christi, incorruptibile est, et impassibile, ac 
per hoc aeternum. Hoc igitur corpus Christi quod agitur in ecclesia 
necesse est ut incorruptibile sit, et aeternum. Sed negari non potest 
corrumpi, quod per partes commutatum dispartitur ad sumendum, et 
dentibus commolitum in corpus trajicitur. — Bertram. Presbyt. lib. de 
Corp. et Sang. Dom. 


yet than this, is of the same nature ; but I shall not 
here set it down, to avoid prolixity.* 

Now these gentlemen, finding that the language of 
both these passages did very ill accord with the doc- 
trine of Transubstantiation, thought it the best way 
to erase them entirely: for fear lest, coming to the 
people's knowledge, they might imagine that there 
had been Sacramentarians in the Church ever since 
the time of Charles the Bald. 

Then, whoever you may be that think yourself 
bound to search the writings of the Fathers for the 
doctrine of salvation, learn from this artifice of theirs, 
and those many other cheats which we, to their great 
mortification, are now investigating, what an extreme 
desire they have to keep from us the opinion and 
sense of the ancients in all those particulars where 
they ever so little contradict their own doctrines; and 
remembering moreover, how every day they have 
had, and still have, such opportunities of doing what 
they please in this way, you cannot doubt, but that 
they have struck deep enough where there was cause. 
These blows of theirs, together with the alterations 
and changes that time, the malice of heretics, the inno- 
cent and pious frauds of the primitive Church, and 
the sentiments of the later Christians, have long since 
produced, have rendered the writings and venerable 
monuments of antiquity, so jumbled and confused, 
that it will be a very difficult matter for any man to 
make a clear and perfect discovery of those things 
which so many different parties have endeavoured to 
conceal from us. 

* Non male aut inconsulte omittantur igitur omnia hsec a fine pa- 
ginae : ■ Considerandum quoque quod in pane illo,' &c. ; usque ad 
illud multo post, ■ Sed aliud est quod exterius geritur,' &c. in ead. 
pag. Et seq. pag. omnia ilia sequentia, ■ Item quae idem sunt, una 
definitione comprehenduntur,' &c.; usque ad illud, "Hoc namque 
quod agitur in via, spiritualiter,' &c. seq. pag. — Index Expurg. Belg. 
an. 1571, in Bertramo. 



Reason V. — The writings of the Fathers are difficult to be understood, 
on account of the languages and idioms in which they wrote, and 
the manner of their writing, which is encumbered with rhetorical 
flourishes and logical subtleties, and with terms used in a sense far 
different from what they now bear. 

If any man, either by the mere light of his own mind, 
or by the assistance and direction of some able and 
faithful hand, shall at length be able, as by the help 
of the clew of which the poets speak, to extricate him- 
self happily from these two labyrinths, and to find 
any pieces of the ancients that are not only legitimate, 
but also entire and uncorrupt ; certainly that man has 
just reason to rejoice at his own good fortune, and to 
give God hearty thanks. For I must needs confess 
that it is no very small satisfaction to a man to have 
the opportunity of conversing with those illustrious 
persons of ages passed, and to learn of them what 
tnfeir opinions were, and to compare our own with 
theirs : 

"Verasque audire et reddere voces." 

But yet this I dare confidently pronounce, that if he 
would know from them what their sense and opinions 
have truly been, as to the differences now in agitation, 
he will find that he is now but at the very beginning 
and entrance of his business; and that there remain 
behind many more difficulties to be overcome in his 
passage, than he has yet grappled with. One of the 
two disagreeing parties refusing the Scriptures for the 
judge of controversies by reason of its obscurity, lays 
this for a ground, (and indeed rationally enough) 
that no obscure books are proper for the decision of 

Now I do not know why a man may not, with 
as much reason, say of most of the writings of the 
Fathers, as Jerome did of some certain expositors of 
some parts of the Scriptures, " That it was more trou- 
ble to understand them Avell, than those very things 


which they took upon them to expound:"* that is to 
say, that it is much harder rightly to understand 
them than the Scriptures themselves. For a man fully 
to comprehend them, it is in the first place necessary 
that he have perfect and exact skill in those languages 
wherein they wrote; that is to say in the Greek and 
Latin, which are the tongues in which most of them 
wrote. As for those of the Fathers who have written 
either in Syriac or Arabic, or Ethiopian, or the like 
vulgar tongues of their own, whose writings perhaps 
would be as useful to us in the discovery of the opi- 
nions of the ancient Church as any others; we have 
not, that I know, any of those monuments now pub- 
licly to be seen abroad, but only some translations of 
them in Greek or Latin : as, for instance, the works 
of St. Ephrem, (if at least those books, which go 
abroad under his name, be truly his:) and the " Com- 
ment, de Paradiso" of Moses Bar-Cephas, translated 
into Latin by Masius, and perhaps some few others. 

I know very well, that for the most part, men trust 
to the translations of the Fathers, whether they be in 
Latin or in vulgar languages ; and that the world is 
now come to that pass, that people will not hesitate 
to take upon them to judge of the Greek Fathers, 
without having (at least, that can be perceived out 
of their writings,) any competent knowledge of the 
Greek tongue,! which cannot in my judgment be 
accounted any thing less than the highest presump- 
tion. The thing is clear enough of itself, that to be 
able to reach the conceptions and sense of a man, 
especially in matters of importance, it is most neces- 
sary that we understand the language he delivers 
himself in, his terms, and the manner of their cohe- 
rence; there being in every particular language a 
certain peculiar force, and power of significancy, 
which can scarcely ever be so preserved in transla- 
tion but that it will lose in the passage something of its 
natural lustre and vigour, however learned and faith- 

* Plerisque nimium disertis accidere solet, ut major sit intelli- 
gentiae difficultas in eorum explanationibus, quam in iis quae expla- 
nare conantur. — Hier, ep. 139. ad Cypr. 

t Bellarmine. 


ful the interpreter may be. But this, which is very- 
useful indeed in all other cases, is most necessary in 
the particular business before us, by reason of the 
little care and fidelity that we find in the translations 
of the greatest part of the interpreters of the Fathers, 
whether ancient or modern. 

We have before seen how Ruffinus, and even 
Jerome himself, have laboured in this particular; and 
long after them, Anastasius also, in his translation of 
the seventh council, who, notwithstanding in his pre- 
face to the eighth gives us this for a most infallible 
rule ; namely, that whatsoever is found in his transla- 
tion is true and legitimate, and, on the contrary, 
whatsoever the Greeks have said, either more or less, 
is supposititious and forged. 

If all the other interpreters of the councils and 
Fathers had been men of the same temper that Anas- 
tasius here would have us believe him to be, we 
might then indeed very well lay by the Greek text, 
and content ourselves with such dull Latin as he has 
furnished us with in his translation. But the mischief 
of it is, that all the world does not believe this testi- 
mony which he has given of himself; and that, al- 
though he has such a special gift in valuing his own 
translation above the original; yet this will hardly 
ever be allowed to other translators, especially the 
modern, who, having been men that have been for 
the most part carried away by their affection to their 
own party, he must needs be a very weak man that 
should trust to them in this case, and rely upon what 
they say. 

Whosoever hath yet a mind to be further satisfied 
how far these men's translations are to be trusted, let 
him but take the pains to compare the Greek preface 
to Origen's books against Celsus, with the Latin 
translation of Christophorus Persona; and, if he 
please, he will do well to run over some part of the 
books themselves; and if he is desirous of exposing 
himself to the laughter of the Protestants, let him but 
produce, upon the honest word of this worthy inter- 
preter, this passage out of the fifth book for the Invo- 


cation of Angels: — " We ought to send up our vows, 
and all our prayers and thanksgivings to God, by the 
angel who has been set over the rest by him who is 
the Bishop, the living Word, and God:"* in which 
words he seems to intimate that Jesus Christ hath 
appointed some one of the angels to hear our prayers, 
and that by him we ought to present them to God; 
whereas Origen says the direct contrary; namely, 
"That we ought to send up to God, who is above all 
things, all our demands, prayers, and requests, by the 
great High Priest, the living Word, and God, who is 
above all the angels."t 

You have a sufficient discovery also of the affec- 
tions of translators, who many times make their 
authors speak more than they meant, in Jo. Christo- 
phorson's translation of the ecclesiastical historians : 
as likewise in most of the translators of these later 
times, excepting only some very few of the more 
moderate sort. But we shall not need to insist any 
longer on this particular, which has been sufficiently 
proved already by the several parties of both sides 
discovering the falseness of their adversaries' transla- 
tions, as every man must know who is any way con- 
versant with that kind of writings, where you shall 
meet with nothing more frequent than these mutual 
reprehensions of each other. 

Now, in the midst of such distraction, and contra- 
riety of judgments, how can a man possibly assure 
himself that he hath the true sense and meaning of 
the Fathers, unless he hear them speak in their own 
language, and have it from their own mouth? I shall 
here lay down then, for a most sure ground and unde- 
niable maxim — 

That to be able rightly to apprehend the judgment 
and sense of the Fathers, it is necessary that we first 

* Vota namque et preces omnes, et gratiarum insuper actiones ad 
Deum, sunt per Angelura. transmittendae, qui per Pontificem, et vivens 
verbum, et Deum, angelis prsefectus est caeteris. — Origen, Christoph. 
Persona, lib. 5. contr, Celsum. 

t TIdurzv fxiv yap fwo-iv, kai 7rsL<r£v 7rpo<nv^nv, jou hrzu^iv kcu lv%a.pi<Tria.v 

aVA7r&JUf,7r<TiOV TOO Z7TI 7TdL<Tl BiCt), S~lCt TOV Z7Tt 7TO.VT(£V dyyiXCCV Gp^iipiCOgy IfA-^V^CU 

\oyou, ksli flsw.—Orig. contr. Cels. 1. 5. p. 239. 


understand the language they write in; and that too, 
not slightly and superficially, but exactly and fully; 
there being in all languages certain peculiar terms and 
idioms, familiarly used by the learned, which no man 
shall ever be able to understand thoroughly and clear- 
ly, that has but a superficial knowledge of the said 
languages, and has not dived even to the depth and 
very bottom of them. If you would see how neces- 
sary the knowledge of an author's language is, and 
how prejudicial the want of it; do but turn to that 
passage of Theodoret, where, speaking of the Eucha- 
rist, he Saith thus: — 'OvSs yap ps *a *tov ay (,acffiop tfa (jLvaivxa 
6Vfifio%a *tY[$ otxstaj I injT'aT'at $v$z coj, [jlsvsi yap irii i?q$ rtpoi's- 
paj ov<jta$, #ac 4ov tf^^jwaT'oj, xcu fov slSovs* The Pro- 

testants, and all their adversaries (before cardinal 
Perron,) interpret this place thus: "The mystical 
symbols, after consecration, do not leave their proper 
nature; for they continue in their first substance, 
figure, and form." Now what can be said more 
expressly against transubstantiation? But yet the 
above named cardinal, having, it seems, consulted 
those old friends of his among the grammarians, who 
had heretofore taught him, that ficawsw signified to 
smoke, or evaporate^ will needs persuade us, that 
this*passage is to be interpreted otherwise; namely, 
that " the signs in the Eucharist continue in the figure 
and form of their first substance:" which would be 
tacitly and indirectly to allow transubstantiation. Now 
it is true that this exposition is contrary, not only to 
the design and purpose of the author, but to the usual 
way of speaking also among the Greeks. But in case 
you had not exact skill in the language, how should 
you be able to judge of this interpretation? especially 
seeing it put upon you with so much confidence and 
unparalleled boldness, according to the ordinary cus- 
tom of this doctor, who never affirms or recommends 
any thing to us more confidently, than when it is most 
doubtful and uncertain. 

* Theod. Dial. 2. 

t Perron Repl. p. 709. Answ. to the 2 Instit. where he takes this 
word to signify to smoke; whereas the true signification is, to pollute % 
or defile. 


It is out of the same rare and unheard-of grammar, 
that the said cardinal has elsewhere taken upon him 
to give us that notable correction of his, of the inscrip- 
tion of an epistle written by the emperor Constantine 
to Miltiades, bishop of Rome, set down in the tenth 
book of Eusebius's Ecclesiastical History, (c. 5,) read 
ing it thus : " Constantinus Augustus, to Miltiades, 
bishop of the Romans, wisheth long time or long 
opportunity :" whereas all copies, both manuscript 
and printed, have it, " Constantinus Augustus, to 
Miltiades bishop of the Romans, and to Mark," 

(KuvG'tav'tivos 2£j3atfT , o$, Mt^-ttad^ ijioaxortio Pco^uatcov, xao 

Mapxuj :)* fearing, I suppose, lest some might accuse 
the emperor of not understanding himself aright, in 
here making this Mark companion to the Pope, who 
in all things ought to march without a compeer. 

I should never have done, if I should undertake to 
notice all those other passages, in which the cardinal 
has used the same arts, in wresting the words of the 
ancients to a wrong sense, which otherwise would 
seem to favour the Protestants : whence it may plainly 
appear, how necessary a knowledge of the languages 
is, for the right understanding of the sense of the 
Fathers. So that, in my judgment, the result of all 
this will clearly be, that, as we have before said, if is a 
difficult thing to come to the right understanding of 
them. For who knows not what pains it will cost a 
man to attain to a perfect knowledge of these two 
tongues? What abilities are necessarily required in this 
case ? A happy memory, a lively conception, a good 
education, continual application, and much and diligent 
reading ; all which very rarely meet in any one per- 
son. The truth of this is clearly proved, by the con- 
tinual debates and disputes among those who, though 
they have referred the judgment of their differences 
to the decision of the Fathers, do yet notwithstanding 

* Perron, in his Reply, says we ought to read it thus: Kavrrctvnvos 
2s/3*0-to?, MihTizfa \7riTK07rco VcofxAtm Kxipov ju.ctx.pov. But it seems more 
probable that we should read, kai M^o*as/, and to Merocles, who 
was at that time bishop of Milan, as is observed by Optatus, lib. 1, p. 


still implead each other at their bar, and cannot pos- 
sibly be brought to any agreement whatever. 

Many of the writers of the Church of Rome, object 
against the Protestants, as an argument of the obscu- 
rity of the Scriptures, the controversies that are betwixt 
themselves and the Lutherans, against the Calvinists, 
as regards the Eucharist; and of the Calvinists against 
the Lutherans, and the Arminians, in the point of pre- 
destination. If this argument of theirs be of any 
force at all, who sees not that it clearly proves that 
which we maintain in this particular ? For the Greeks 
and the Latins, who both of them make profession of 
submitting themselves to the authority of the Fathers, 
and to plead all their causes before them, have not as 
yet been able to come to any agreement. Do but 
observe the passages between these two, at the coun- 
cil of Florence,* where the strongest and ablest cham- 
pions on both sides were brought into the lists; how 
they wrangled out whole sessions, about the exposi- 
tion of a certain short passage in the council at 
Ephesus, and some similar one out of Epiphanius,t 
Basil, J and others : and after all their disputes, how 
clearly and powerfully soever each party vaunted 
that the business was carried on, they have yet left 
us the sense of the Fathers much more dark and 
obscure than it was before ; their contests having ren- 
dered the business much more perplexed. Each side 
has indeed very much the appearance of reason in what 
they urged against their adversaries, but very little 
solidity in what they have said severally for them- 
selves. Certainly the Latins, who are thought to have 
had the better cause of the two, (and who, upon a 
certain passage of Basil adduced by themselves,§ 
triumphed as if they had gained the day — baffling 
and affronting the Greeks in a very disdainful manner, 
and giving them very harsh language,) used, notwith- 

* Concil. Flor. Sess. 5, de Decreto quodam Concil. Eph. Act. 6, 
Sess. 11 et 12. 

t Concil. Flor. Sess. 18, 20. * Ibid. Sess. 21. 

§ 'Ow KcLjuficcvojuev tiva irctpst rev 7rvzu/u&ro$, L><r7rzp 7ra.pct tou viov to 7rviu/uct. 
Ibid, locus Basil. 


standing, such an odd kind of logic, to persuade the 
receiving of the exposition which they gave, as that 
even at this day, in the last edition of BasiPs works, 
printed at Paris, and revised by Fronto Ducaeus,* the 
Latin translation follows, in this particular, not their 
exposition, but that of the Greek schismatics. 

Some of the Protestants having also had the same 
success in some particular points controverted betwixt 
themselves, it lies open to every man's observation, 
how much obscurity there is found in the passages 
cited by both sides. If Tertullian was of the opinion 
of the Church of Rome, in the point concerning the 
Eucharist, what could he have uttered more dark and 
obscure than this passage of his, in his fourth book 
against Marcion; "Christ having taken bread, and 
distributed it to his disciples, made it his body, in 
saying, This is my body; that is to say, The figure of 
my body."t If Augustine held transubstantiation, 
what can the meaning be of these words of his, " The 
Lord hesitated not. to say, This is my body, when he 
delivered only the sign of his body?";]: 

If these passages, and an infinite number of the 
like, do really and truly mean that which Cardinal 
Perron pretends they do, then was there never any 
thing of obscurity either in the riddles of the Theflan 
Sphinx, or in the oracles of the Sybils. 

If you look on the other side, you will meet with 
some other passages in the Fathers, which seem to 
speak point blank against the Protestants; as, for 
example, where they say expressly, " That the bread 
changes its nature; and that by the almighty power 
of God, it becomes the flesh of the Word:" and the 
like. And so in all the controversies between them, 
they produce such passages as these, both on the 
one side and on the other: some whereof seem to be 

* Basil, in Orat. in Sacr. Baptis. p. 511, torn. 1. Edit. Paris, apud 
Michael. Sonnium anno 1618. 

t Acceptum panem, et distributum discipulis, corpus suum ilium 
fecit, Hoc est corpus meum, dicendo, id est, Figura corporis mei. — 
Tertul. contr. Marc. I. 4, c. 40. 

t Non enim Dominus dubitavit dicere, Hoc est corpus meum, cum 
signum daret corporis sui. — Aug. cont. Adimant. c. 12. 


irreconcilable to the sense of the Church of Rome, and 
some others to the sense of their adversaries. 

If cardinal Perron, and those other sublime wits of 
both parties, can have the confidence to affirm that 
they find no difficulty at all in these particulars, we 
must needs think that either they speak this merely 
out of bravado, setting a good face upon a bad mat- 
ter; or else, that both the wits and eyesight of all the 
rest of the world are marvellously dull and feeble, in 
finding nothing but darkness, where these men see 
nothing but light. Yet for all this, if there be not ob- 
scurity in these writings of the Fathers, and that very 
great too, how comes it to pass, that even these very 
men find themselves ever and anon so puzzled to dis- 
cover the meaning of them? How comes it to pass, 
that they are fain to use so many words, and make 
trial of so many tricks and devices, for the clearing of 
them? Whence proceeds it, that so often, for fear of 
not being able to satisfy their readers, they are forced 
to cry down either the authors or the pieces out of 
which their adversaries produce their testimonies? 

What strange sentences and passages of authors are 
those that require more time and trouble in elucida- 
ting them, than in deciding the controversy itself, 
and which multiply differences rather than determine 
them ; oftentimes serving as a covert and retreating 
place to both parties? Thus the sense and meaning 
of these words is debated: " This is my body." For 
the explaining of them, there is brought this passage 
out of Tertullian ; and that other out of Augustine. 
Now I would have any man speak in his conscience 
what he thinks, whether or not these words are not 
as clear, or clearer, than those passages which they 
quote from these Fathers, as they are explained by 
the different parties. I desire, reader, no other judge 
than yourself, whosoever you are ; only provided that 
you will but vouchsafe to read and examine that 
which is now said upon these places, and consider 
the strange turnings and contortions that they make 
us take, to bring us to the right sense and meaning of 
them. In a word, if the most able men that exist did 


not find themselves extremely puzzled and perplexed 
in distinguishing the genuine writings of the Fathers 
from the spurious, it is not likely that the censors of 
the Low Countries, who are all choice and select men, 
should be obliged to show us so ill an example of find- 
ing a way to help ourselves, when the authority of 
the ancients is strongly pressed against us by our ad- 
versaries, as they do, in excusing the expressions of 
the Fathers sometimes, by some handsomely contri- 
ved invention, and in putting some convenient proba- 
ble sense upon them.* 

What has been said, I am confident, is sufficient to 
convince any reasonable man of the truth of the asser- 
tion, that it is a very difficult matter to understand the 
sense and opinions of the Fathers by their books. 
But that we may leave no doubt behind us, let us 
briefly consider some few of the principal causes of 
this difficulty. 

Certainly the Fathers, having been wise men, all of 
them both spoke and wrote to be understood; inso- 
much that, having both the will and the ability to do 
it, it seems very strange that they should not be able 
to attain the end they aimed at. But we must here 
call to mind what we have said before, that these 
controversies of ours having not in their time sprung 
up, they had no occasion, nor was it their design, 
either to speak or write anything respecting them. 
For these sages raised as few doubts in matters of 
religion as they could. Besides their times furnished 
them with sufficient matter of dispute, in points which 
were then in agitation, without so much as thinking 
of those of ours now on foot. And they have very 
clearly delivered their sense in all those controversies 
on which they have entered. Even Tertullian him- 
self, who is the most obscure amongst them all, has 
notwithstanding delivered himself so clearly in the 
disputes between him and Marcion and others, that 

* Plurimos in Catholicis veteribus errores excogitato commento 
persaepe negamus, et commodum iis sensum affingimus, dum oppo- 
nuntur in disputationibus, aut in conflictibus cum adversariis. — Ind. 
Exp. Belg. in Bertr, 


there is no place left to doubt what his opinions were 
on the points discussed. I am therefore fully per- 
suaded that if they had lived in our times, or if the 
present controversies had been agitated in their times, 
they would have delivered their judgment upon them 
very plainly and expressly. But seeing that they have 
not touched upon them, or only slightly, and as they 
came accidentally in their way, rather than from any 
design, we are not to think it strange, if we find them 
not to have spoken decidedly, and given their sense 
clearly as to these disputes of ours. As any man 
may easily observe in the ordinary course, those 
things that happen without design are never clear and 
full, but ambiguous and doubtful; and oftentimes con- 
trary, perhaps, either to the sense or the sentiment of 
the person from whom they proceeded. Thus before 
the springing up of that pernicious doctrine of Arius, 
who so much troubled the ancient Church, there was 
very little said of the eternity of the divine nature of 
Jesus Christ : or if the Fathers said anything at all of 
it, it Avas only by the way, and not by design: and 
hence it is also that what they have delivered in this 
particular, is as obscure and difficult to be rightly 
understood, as those other passages of theirs that 
relate to our present controversies. 

Do but explain the meaning, if you can, of this pas- 
sage of Justin Martyr, in his treatise against Tryphon; 
where he saith that " The God which appeared to 
Moses and to the Patriarchs, was the Son and not the 
Father ;"* inasmuch as the Father is not capable of 
locomotion, neither can he properly be said to ascend 
or descend: and that "No man ever saw the Father, 
but only heard his Son, and his angel, who is also 
God, by the will of the Father."! 

These words of his cannot be very well explained, 
without allowing a difference of nature in the Father 
and the Son ; which were to establish Arianism. 

* Just, contr. Tryph. p. 283, et 356, edit. Paris. 1615. 

t 'Outs obv 'AftpAX-jtA, obve Icrctax,, obre 'JaKafi, obre a\ko; dv8^a>7raiv e/<Ts tov 
TrciTipx km appvrov tcupiov vw 7ra.vra)V cbrAa?, nai cibrou tov XpurTouy aXX* iauvovy 
tov x&rd (Zovxm r»v Ikhvov jou Beov bvrct, viov ctbrov, x.cti ayythov, \k rou v7r»fnruv 
th yvtojun abrov, &c. — Ibid. p. 357. 


Observe what Tertullian also says, in this particular, 
namely, " That the Father, bringing him forth out of 
himself, made his Son;"* and, " That the Father is 
the whole substance, and the Son a portion, and a 
derivation of that whole ;"t and many other similar 
passages, which you meet with here and there, in that 
excellent piece of his, written against Praxeas, which 
will scarcely be reconciled to good sense. In like 
manner does Dionysius Alexandrinus call the Son, 
"The work, or workmanship, of the Father:" no^a 
xat, ysvr t tov slvao *tov vlov tov Osovit which are the very 
terms that were so much quarrelled about in Arius. 
The eighty Fathers, who condemned Paulus Samosa- 
tenus bishop of Antioch, said expressly, " That the 
Son is not of the same essence with the Father :"§ 
that is to say, they in express terms denied the opoovaiov, 
or consubstantiality of the Son, which was after- 
wards established in the council of Nice. 

It would be no difficult matter to make good the 
assertion in reference to all the other disputes that 
have arisen in the Church against Macedonius, Pela- 
gius, Nestorius, Eutyches, and the Mono'thelites; that 
the Fathers have spoken very obscurely of these 
matters, before the controversies were started; as per- 
sons that spoke only incidentally thereof, and not with 
previous design. It is now long since that Jerome 
said, "That before Arius, that impudent devil, ap- 
peared in the world, the Fathers had said many things 
innocently, and without taking much heed of their 
words, as they might have done; and indeed some 
things that can hardly escape the cavils of wrangling 
spirits." || This has also been observed by some of 

* Quern ex semetipso proferendo, Filium fecit. — Tertul. lib. 2, 
contr. Marc. c. 27. 

f Pater tota substantia est, Alius verd derivatio totius et portio. — 
Id. I. cont. Prax. cap. 9, et passim in eo opere. 

X Dion. Alex, apud Athanas. ep. de fide Dion. Alex. Vide et Basil. 
ep.41,t. 2. p. 802. 

§ Octoginta Episcopi olim respuerunt to ojuoovo-tov. — Athan. ep. de 
Syn. Arim. et Seleu. Vide et Hilar, de Syn. fol. 97. 

|| Vel certe antequam in Alexandria quasi daemonium meridianum 
Arius nasceretur, innocenter qusedam, et minus caute locuti sunt, 
et quae non possint perversorum hominum calumniam declinare. — 
Hier. Apol. 2, contr. Ruff. 


the most learned among the moderns; as cardinal 
Perron,* and also the Jesuit Petavius (a man highly 
esteemed by those of his own party) who, writing 
upon Epiphanius, and endeavouring to clear Lucian 
the Martyr from the suspicion of being an Arian and 
a Samosatenian, says, " That in this question respect- 
ing the Trinity, as also in various others, it has so 
happened that most of the ancient Fathers, who wrote 
before the rise of those particular heresies in the 
Church, have in their writings let fall here and there 
such things as are not very consonant to the rule of 
the orthodox faith. "t 

Since therefore they have done thus in other points, 
what wonder is it if they have likewise done the 
same in these particular controversies at this day dis- 
puted amongst us? and that having lived so long 
before the greatest part of these controversies arose, 
they have spoken of them so obscurely, doubtfully, and 
confusedly? For my part I think it would have been 
the greater wonder of the two, if they had done other- 
wise ; and shall account it as a very great sign of for- 
gery, in any piece which is attributed to antiquity, 
whenever I find it treating expressly and clearly of these 
points, and as they are now-a-days discussed. Only 
compare the expressions of the most ancient Fathers, 
on the divinity and eternity of the Son of God, with 
their expressions on the nature of the Eucharist ; and 
certainly you will find, that the former are not more 
wide of the truth at this day professed on this last 
point, than the other were from the doctrine long since 
declared in the council of Nice. This council ex- 
pressly and positively declared, " That the Son is con- 
substantial with the Father. " The council of Antioch 
had before denied this. Whether the Fathers there- 
fore affirm or deny that the Eucharist is really the 

* Perron. Repl. Obs. 4. c. 5. 

t Quod idem plerisque veterum Patrum, cum in hoc negotio (Tri- 
nitatis,) turn in aliis fidei Christiana; capitibus, usu venit, ut ante 
errorum atque heresean quibus ea sigillatim oppugnabantur, origi- 
nem, nondum satis illustrata et patefacta rei veritate, quaedam scrip- 
tis suis asperserint, quae cum orthodoxae fidei regula minime consen- 
tiant. — Dion. Petav, in Panar. Epiph. ad Har. 69. qua est Arian, 


body of Christ, they will not however therein contra- 
dict thy opinion (whosoever thou art, whether Ro- 
manist or Protestant) any more than the Fathers of 
the council of Antioch seem to have contradicted 
those of the council of Nice. 

We may here add, that as the Arians ought not in 
reason to have adduced, in justification of their opin- 
ions, any such passages of the Fathers as had fallen 
from them inadvertently, and in discoursing on other 
subjects, without any idea of establishing an opinion 
thereon; so neither, to say the truth, is there any rea- 
son, that either thou or I should produce, as defini- 
tive sentences upon our present controversies which 
have arisen but of late years, any such passages of 
the Fathers as were written by them, in treating of 
other matters many ages before the commencement 
of our differences, of which they never had the least 
idea; and concerning which they have delivered them- 
selves very diversely and obscurely, and sometimes 
also seemingly contradicting themselves. And as we 
find that some of the faithful Christians, who lived 
after these primitive Fathers, have endeavoured to 
reconcile their sayings to the truth which they pro- 
fessed; as Athanasius has done in some passages of 
Dionysius Alexandrinus,* and of the Fathers of the 
council of Antioch; in like manner ought we to use 
our utmost endeavour to make a fair interpretation of 
all such passages in the writings of these men, as seem 
to clash with the true orthodox belief on the Eucha- 
rist and other similar points: not accounting it any 
great wonder, if we sometimes chance to meet with 
passages which seem to be utterly inexplicable. For 
it may so fall out that they may be really so ; for it is 
very possible, that in the points touching the person 
and the natures of the Son of God, some such expres- 
sions may have fallen from them, as is very well 
known to those who are versed in their writings. 
Possibly also we may meet with some passages of 
theirs, which, though they may be explicable in them- 

* Athan. ep. de fid. Dionys. Alex, et ep. de Syn. Arim. et Seleuc, 
ubi supra. 



selves, may notwithstanding appear to us to be inex- 
plicable; by reason perhaps of our wanting some of 
those circumstances which are necessarily requisite 
for elucidating and clearing the same : as for example, 
when we are ignorant of the scope and drift of the 
author, and of the connexion and dependencies of his 
discourse, and other similar particulars which are re- 
quisite for the penetrating into the sense of all kinds 
of writers. For it is with men's words as it is with 
pictures : they must have their proper light to show 
themselves according to the meaning and intention of 
the author: and according to the difference of the 
lights we see them by, they also have a different ap- 
pearance. As for example, if any one should now 
urge alone, and barely without reference to the rest 
of the discourse and history of its author, this short 
passage of Dionysius Alexandrinus, where he calls 
the Son of God, Ttot^a tov ®sov, (the workmanship of 
the Father;)* and adds certain other very strange 
terms, also touching this particular, (as we daily see 
ihe custom of some is, in the business of our present 
controversies, to produce the like shreds and little 
short passages severed from the main body of the 
discourse whereof they are a part;) which of us, how 
able soever he be, could possibly imagine any thing 
else, but that this is an absolute Arian expression, and 
such as cannot be interpreted in any other sense ? And 
yet Athanasius, in the places before cited, makes it 
plainly appear that it is not so ; and by the advantage of 
those lights which he had in the subject there treated 
of by the author, he demonstrates to us that this ex- 
pression of Dionysius, how strange soever it appear, 
has notwithstanding a good and allowable sense in 
that place. 

That we may be enabled more fully to elucidate 
the subject, we shall in the next place take into con- 
sideration some other causes of the obscurity of the 
Fathers; among which I shall rank, in the first place, 

* TlotofA.*. aoci ytyiprov iivcti tov u*ov rou (dtov, {mure efg <pu<r&i iSiov aKKct %evcv 

JW.T* iStcLV ilVCtt <T0U 7rccrpOC, CjT7np i(TTlV yzcepyoc, 7rf>Q$ <T»V ajU7rthOV, K'JLl w? 

va.v7rnyos 7rpos to 0-x.zqos' kki y*f> w? Tro/j^a, w y ova w ?rf>tv ytvnrctj. 


their having sometimes purposely, and from design, 
endeavoured either wholly to conceal their conceptions 
from us, or at least to lay them down, not clear and 
open, but as it were with a curtain (and that some- 
times a very thick one too) drawn over them, to the 
end that none but those- of the quickest and most 
piercing eyes should be able to penetrate them: some 
of their meditations having been such as they them- 
selves accounted either of little use, or else such as 
it was not so safe to commit to weak vulgar spirits. 
Whether this practice of theirs was raised upon good 
grounds or not, I shall not here stay to examine : it is 
sufficient for me to show that it was usual with them, 
as may appear, among others in Clemens Alexandri- 
nus, about the beginning of his Stromata, where, 
giving an account of the design of his book, he says 
that " He had passed over some things in silence, 
fearing to write that of which he made some scruple 
even to speak: not that he e^ied his readers any 
thing, but fearing rather lest they might haply, from 
misunderstanding them, fall into error ; and thus he 
might seem to have put a sword into the hand of a 
child. " He adds further, " That he had handled some 
things clearly, and some others obscurely; laying the 
one open to our view, but wrapping up the other in 

That which tells most to our present purpose is, 
that they are known to have taken this course parti- 
cularly in some of those points which are now con- 
troverted amongst us; as in that touching the Sacra- 
ments of the Church. For as they celebrated their 
holy mysteries in secret and apart by themselves, not 
admitting either the Pagans or the Catechumens, nor 
yet (as some assure us) any person whatsoever, save 
only the communicants, to the sight of them;t in like 
manner also in their writings, especially in those that 

* Tec /uev Ikccv 7rdLpA7ri/u.7ro]uai f ettxeyuv srwrtifAOveos <po@Gvy.evos ypu<petv, a 
acti xeyetv z<pvX*$;*/u.)iv' ov ti 7rov qQovoov, ov ystp Septs' Se^iag <Ts apx 7rept <rw 
hruyxjAvwraV) f*n7rn irepeee <r<pctxeiev f aai irtuii fjutxtttp&v, » <puo~iv ol irxpoifAix- 
^o/uevoi, opeyovres evpeQa/uev, &c. en Jg a kcli ctht^eTcti juot ypzyv, Kcci to/? yev 
rrupxTrrno-ersii, Tat Se /uovov epei. — Clem. Alex. Strom. 1. 

t Cassand. in Liturg. c, 26. 


were to be read openly to the people in their public 
assemblies, they never spoke but very obscurely and 
darkly, as has been observed on the subject of the 
Eucharist by cardinal Perron, and by Casaubon, Peta- 
vius, and others, and also in the points of baptism, 
confirmation, and other holy ceremonies of the Chris- 
tians.* Observe how wary Theodore t, Epiphanius, 
and other ancient writers are, in adverting to the sub- 
ject of the Eucharist 5 describing it in general terms 
only, and such as they only could understand, who 
had been formerly partakers of that Holy Sacrament. 

I shall not here take upon me to examine the end 
which they proposed to themselves in so doing, which 
seems to have been to implant in the minds of the 
Catechumens, a greater reverence and esteem for the 
Sacraments, and a more earnest and eager desire to be 
admitted to partake of them: fearing lest the laying 
open and discoursing plainly on the matter and man- 
ner of celebrating the Sacraments might lessen these 
feelings for them. 

Seeing therefore that not only in this, but in divers 
other particulars also, they have purposely and from 
design concealed their meaning and opinions from us ; 
we ought not to account it so strange a matter, if we 
many times find their expressions to be obscure, (and 
which is a consequence of obscurity,) if they some- 
times also seem to clash, and contradict one another. 
Indeed, it were more to be wondered at, if these men, 
who were for the most part able and learned, having 
a purpose of writing obscurely on these points, should 
yet have left us their opinions clearly and plainly 
delivered in their writings. But there is still more in 
it : for sometimes, even where they had no purpose 
of being so, they yet are very obscure : and again, the 
little conversation they have had with those arts, 
which are requisite for the polishing of language, was 
the cause of their not expressing themselves so clearly: 
and sometimes perhaps their genius and natural dispo- 
sition might be the reason ; all their study and industry 
not being able to correct this natural defect in them. 
* Casaub. in Baron, exercit. 16. 


I believe we may very safely reckon Epiphanius in 
the first rank of this kind of writers, who was indeed 
a good and holy man, but yet had been very little 
conversant in the arts, either of Rhetoric or Grammar, 
as appears sufficiently from his writings ; where he is 
often found failing, not only in the clearness of his 
expressions, and in the flow and adaptation of his 
periods, but also even in their order and method, 
which is the true light of all discourse. These defects 
must necessarily be the cause of much obscurity in 
many places; and indeed is much complained of by 
the interpreters of this Father. 

Others perhaps there have been, who have endea- 
voured to polish their language by art, who yet have 
not been able to compass their intention; whether it 
were, because they began too late, or else perhaps 
through the dulness of their wit, and want of capa- 
city; as we see that all natures are not capable of 
receiving all forms, whatever pains and industry they 
take for the making such impressions. In this num- 
ber you may reckon that Victorinus, of whom Jerome 
gives this so favourable testimony, saying, that, though 
indeed he wanted learning, he wanted not a desire 
and good will to learning.* 

Such another also was Ruffinus, whose language 
and expressions the same great censor of the ancients 
so sharply reproves, noticing in him many improprie- 
ties of speech, and other absurdities : and yet for all 
this he would not be taken off from his scribbling 
humour ;t and which is more, there were not wanting 
those who admired him: it being commonly observed, 
that those who wrote most in any age were not 
always the ablest men ; this mania existing rather in 
the ignorant than in the other. Photius, in his Bibli- 
otheca, has noticed the like defects in some of his 
Greek writers. 

Yet this obscurity in the Fathers has proceeded, 
not from their ignorance, but rather from their great 

* Victorino Martyri in libris suis licet desit eruditio, tamen non 
deest eruditionis voluntas. — Hier. ep. 84, ad Magn. 
t In Apol. 1, in Ruff, et Apol. 2, el Apol. ad Ruff. 


learning; for those among them, who were furnished 
with all kind of secular learning, and had been train- 
ed up from their infancy in the eloquence and know- 
ledge of the Greeks, could not but retain this tincture, 
and sometimes also had their flights, and made show 
of this their treasury; by this means mixing with the 
Christian philosophy many exotic words, customs, 
and discourses : which mixture, though it gives in- 
deed much pleasure to the learned, must necessarily 
render the sense of these authors the more dark and 

What can you name more mixed or fuller of va- 
riety, than Clemens Alexandrinus's Stromata, as he 
calls them, and his other works, which are through- 
out interwoven with historical allusions, opinions, sen- 
tences, and proverbs, out of all kinds of writers, both 
sacred and profane ; being here heightened with rich 
and light colours, there shaded with darkness, to 
such a degree that it is vain for an ignorant person 
to hope ever to obtain his meaning? 

What shall I say of Tertullian, who, notwithstand- 
ing that natural harshness and roughness in which he 
every where abounds, and that Carthaginian spirit 
and genius which is common to him with the rest of 
the African writers, has yet shadowed and overcast 
the brilliancy of his conceptions with so much learn- 
ing, and with so many new terms and phrases of law, 
and with such variety of allusions, subtilties,and nice 
points, that the greatest store of learning and attention 
you may possess, will be all little enough to give you 
a perfect understanding of him? 

I shall not here speak any thing of Hilary, of the 
loftiness of his imagination, of the sublimity of his 
language, and of that Cothurnus Gallicanus which 
Jerome has noticed in him, and in others of his coun- 
trymen. Neither shall I here take any notice of the 
copiousness of the Africans, nor of the subtilty of the 
Athenians, and of those that had their education 
among them, the consideration of all which particu- 
lars would afford matter for an entire volume. I 
shall only say in general, that as the manner of the 


Christian writing and expounding the Scriptures was 
at first very plain, easy, and brief; in a very short 
time it began to be changed, and to be clogged with 
subtilties, and flourishes of secular learning, as testi- 
fied by Methodius in Epiphanius. "The doctors 
(says he) no longer regarding an honest, plain, and 
solid way of teaching, began now to endeavour to 
please, and to be favourably received by their audi- 
tors; just as sophisters are wont to do, who consider 
their labours rewarded by their auditors applauding 
their learning; thus selling themselves at so cheap a 
rate. For as for the ancients, their expositions were 
always very brief; their utmost ambition in those 
days being not to please but to profit their hearers."* 
Gregory Nazianzen also very seriously and with 
his usual eloquence, thus complains : — " There was a 
a time (saith he) when our affairs flourished, and we 
were in a happy estate, when this vain and loose kind 
of divinity, which is every where now in fashion, 
together with all its artifices and delicacies of language, 
was not at all admitted into the sheepfolds of the Lord. 
In those days, to listen to or to vent any novelties or 
curiosities in divinity, was thought like playing the 
juggler, and showing tricks of legerdemain, with cun- 
ning and nimble shifting of balls under a cup, deceiv- 
ing the eyes of the spectators; or else by delighting 
them with the various and effeminate motions and 
windings of a lascivious dance. On the contrary, 
rather a plain, masculine, and free way of discourse 
was then accounted the most pious. But now, since 
the Pyrrhonians and Sextus's faction, together with 
the tongue of contradiction, have, like a grievous, 
malignant disease, broken in upon our Churches — 
since babbling is now allowed for learning, and as in 
the Acts it is said of the Athenians, since we spend 
our time in nothing else but 'in hearing or telling 

* T&JV (PlS'dLfTX.'J.XtoV OUTS 7Tp r jQ TO fetXriCrTOV u/UlXXto/UtVW 8TJ iCOtl OS/UVCV, aXXct 

7rpoe to afiiTAt kxl eim/uepiKraLr x.nBu7rip ol 'Zoq>i<r<TsLt t cl /u.i<rQtv etipcwrai TO>r 
xcyw iyriumt^ofxivot t>k trcqicts wntnots. To /uiv ouv 7rstxxiov @p*X u ^ocvrtxees 
to 7npi thv \fyywiv »v, qixort/uou/usvav fxn Tip7ruv, dxxct io^iKW tov; 7rdLpovr*s 
<rm tots. — Method, apud Epiph. Hser. 64. 


some new thing' — for some Jeremiah, to bewail 
the confusion and darkness we lie under ; who might 
furnish us, as that prophet only was able to do, with 
lamentations suitable to our calamities !"* 

Certainly Jerome, in his Epistle to Pammachius,t 
avows, that even for his writings also, it is necessary 
that the reader be acquainted both with the subtilties 
of logic, and all the flourishes of rhetoric. This cen- 
sure of his reaches also to the writings of Origen, 
Methodius, Eusebius, Apollinaris, Tertullian, Cyp- 
rian, Minutius, Victorinus, Lactantius, Hilary, and 
others, whom he affirms to have all observed the same 
method in their writings.^ 

Now although any rational man must willingly 
grant that the translations of terms and figures, either 
in word only, or in things themselves, and such other 
ornaments of rhetoric, with all the subtilties of logic — 
and, in a word, all the artifices of learning, must neces- 
sarily render any discourse the more obscure and 
dark; yet for the fuller elucidation of this point, I 
shall here add some proofs and examples. Jerome 
declares himself sufficiently of this opinion,§ where 
he attributes the cause of the obscurity found in the 
writings of certain authors to their being too learned 
and eloquent. Sixtus Senensis observes, that the 
Fathers have uttered many things in the warmth of 
feeling, which we are not to take in a strictly literal 
sense. || Petavius has also observed, " that the Fathers 
have uttered in their homilies many things which 

* 'Hv org m/ULA^i ret ttfAiripu., Kdi KSLXtos io-%zv, mix* to fjLtv 7repi<rrdv TOVTO 
x..u KstTtryKarTta-fAivov th? Qzoxoytxs, text ivrz^yov, owfg Tra/JeJW zi%ev uc <raf 0s/*ff 
abxxf ttKKdi rctwrov hv, ^Depots ts 7rc*.t£etv n»v o-^/v, ttXZTrrouo-ctis tod tcl^zi mc 
fAerctQt<7eu>c, h xzropxeto-Qat ruv 6zxra>v 7rctv<TQtQie x*t avfayuvois \oyurjuaL>rt, kxi 
trzpt Qiou Xzyztv t/, koci dKovuv xxivonpov, xxt 7reptspycv. To <fg a7rKouv tz K*t 
zbyzvz; too xoyou zv<rzfizict zvojut^zro. 9 A<^ ov Jz Iz^rci, xxi Ylvppoonc, nni « 
avnBzrog yxaxr<rcc, Zicrmp rt voo-h/uol JWov kzi kakohBz; retis zKKKyxrtalg rijuav 
ureqQctpyi, xocl » <p\v*pi& 7rcci<fiu<Tis z£c%z, kai o qwt mpi AQmaiw n fiifi\oc ra>v 
TLpctfyav, zt ovSzv aKXo zuKzipzu/uzv, « xzyziv rt n axcuztv Kzivorzpov Z> ric 'lzpi/utxc 
bSupzTa.t <tm yifxzTZptv <ruy)(U(riv xsu cncirGfAXivxv, o juovos it$m z^arovv Qptivovs 
tir&Qtfftv. — Greg. Naz. Enc. Alhan. 

t Hieron. ep. 50, ad Pammach. et passim, ibid. t Id. ibid. 

§ Hier. sup. Ep. 139. ad Cypr. 

|| Sixt. Senens. Biblioth. lib. 6. Annot. 152. 


cannot be reconciled to good sense, if we examine 
them by the exact rule of truth.* We often excuse 
this in them, by showing that under so many flowers 
and leaves, wherewith they crown their discourses, 
they many times convey a different sense from that 
which their words in appearance seem to bear. 

Who has not observed the strange hyperboles of 
Chrysostom, Hilary, Ambrose, and others? But that 
I may make it plainly and evidently appear how 
much these ornaments darken the sense of an author, 
I shall only here lay before you one instance, taken 
from Jerome ; who, writing to Eustochium, gives her 
an account, how he was brought before the presence 
of our Lord, for being too much addicted to the study 
of secular learning, and was there really with stripes 
chastised for it. " Think not (says he) that this was 
any of those drowsy fancies or vain dreams which 
sometimes deceive us. I call to witness hereof, that 
tribunal before which I then lay; and that said judg- 
ment, which* I was then in dread of. So may I never 
hereafter fall into the like danger, as this is true ! I 
do assure you that I found my shoulders to be all 
over black and blue with the stripes I then received, 
and which I afterwards felt when I awoke. So that 
I have ever since had a greater affection to the read- 
ing of divine books, than I ever before had to the 
study of human learning."t 

Now hearing Jerome speak thus, who would not 
believe this to be a true story? and who would not 
understand this narration in the literal sense? Yet it 
appears plainly, from what he has elsewhere con- 
fessed, that all this was but a mere dream, and a rhe- 
torical piece of artifice, frequently used by the masters 

* Multa sunt k sanctissimis Patribus, prsesertimque a Chrysostomo 
in homiliis aspersa, quae si ad exactse veritatis regulam accommodare 
volueris, boni sensus inania videbuntur. — Petav. Not. in Epiph. 

f Nee verd sopor ille fuerat, aut vana somnia, quibus saepe deludi- 
mur. Testis est tribunal illud, ante quod jacui; testis judicium 
triste quod timui. Ita mihi nunquam contingat in talem incidere 
quaestionem : liventes fateor habuisse me scapulas, plagas sensisse 
post somnurn, et tanto dehinc studio divina legisse, quanto non ante 
mortalia legeram. — Hier. ep.21. ad Eustoch. 



in this art; contrived only for the better and more 
powerful diverting men from their too great affection 
to the books of the heathens. For Ruffinus, quarrel- 
ing with him on this account, and objecting against 
him, that, contrary to the oath which he had before 
taken, he did notwithstanding still apply himself to 
the study of Pagan learning : Jerome, after he had 
alleged many things to clear himself from this accusa- 
tion, says, " Thus you see what I could have urged 
for myself, had I promised any such thing waking. 
But now do but take notice of this new and unheard 
of kind of impudence ; he objects against me my very 
dreams."* Then presently he refers him to the 
words of the prophets, saying, " We must not take 
heed to dreams ; for neither does an adulterous dream 
cast a man into hell, nor that of martyrdom bring him 
to heaven."! He at last plainly observes, that this 
promise of his was made only in a dream; and that 
therefore consequently it carried no obligation with 

Who knows but that the life of Malchus, which 
Jerome has so delicately and artificially related to us, 
and some other similar pieces of his, and of some 
others, may be the like displays of imagination? We 
see he does not hesitate to confess, that the life of 
Paulus Eremita was accounted as such by some of 
his friends: and it is very probable that his forty- 
seventh epistle,§ which is so full of learning and elo- 
quence, is but an essay of the same nature; he having 
there fancied to himself a fit subject only whereon to 
show his own eloquence, agreeably to the usual man- 
ner of orators. 

Thus you see, reader, what great darkness is cast 
over the writings of the ancients by these figures and 

* Hsec dicerem si quippiam vigilans promisissem. Nunc autem 
novum impudentise genus, objicit mihi somnium meum. — Hier. Apol, 
adv. Ruffin, 

t Audiat prophetarum voces, somniis non esse credendum ; quia 
nee adulterii somnium ducit me ad Tartarum, nee corona martyrii 
in ccelum levat. — Ibid. 

t Tu a me somnii exigis sponsionem. — Ibid. 

§ Hier. in vit. Hilarion. 


flourishes of rhetoric, and other artifices of human 
learning, which they so often and so over licentiously 
use, at least as regards ourselves; who, to our great 
disadvantage, find that so many ornaments and em- 
bellishments rather disguise from us the depth of their 
conceptions. Who shall assure us that they have not 
made use of the same arts in their discourses on the 
Eucharist; to advance the dignity of the divine mys 
teries, and to increase the people's devotion? and like- 
wise, as regards the power of the prelates, to procure 
them the greater respect and obedience from their 
people ? What probability is there that they would 
spare their pencils, their colours, their shadows, and 
their lights, in those points where this their art might 
have been employed to such good purpose? 

To this place I shall refer those other customs, 
which are so frequent, of denying and affirming things 
as it were absolutely; notwithstanding the purpose 
and intent of their discourse be to deny or affirm them 
only by way of comparison, and reference to some 
other things. Who cannot but think that Jerome was 
tainted with the heresy of Marcion, and of the En- 
cratics, when we hear him so fiercely inveigh against 
marriage, as he does in his books against Jovinian; 
and often also in other places to such a degree, that 
there have sometimes fallen from him such words as 
these : " Seeing that in the use of the woman there is 
always some corruption ; and that incorruption pro- 
perly belongs to chastity; marriage cannot be ac- 
counted of so high esteem as chastity."* And a little 
after : " My opinion is, that he that hath a wife, as 
long as he returns to such a state, that Satan may not 
tempt him, (that is to say, so long as he makes use of 
her as a wife,) sows in the flesh, and not in the spirit. 
Now he that soweth in the flesh, (it is not I that say 
it, but the Apostle,) the same shall reap corruption."! 

* Si corruptio ad omnem coitum pertinet, incorruptio autem pro- 
prie castitatis est : prsemia pudicitiae nuptiae possidere non possunt. 
—Hier. lib. 1. adversus Jovin. 

f Existimo quod qui uxorem habet, quandiu revertitur ad id ipsum 
ne tentet eum Satanas, in came seminet, et non in spiritu. Qui autem 


Now the above words, taken literally, condemn 
marriage and the use thereof, as defiling a man, and 
depriving him of a blessed immortality. Yet, not- 
withstanding, in his epistle to Pammachius,* he 
informs us, that these passages of his, and all other 
similar ones, are not to be understood as spoken posi- 
tively and absolutely, but only by way of comparison; 
that is, he would be understood to say, that the purity 
and felicity of virgins is such, as that, in comparison 
with it, the marriage bed is not to be mentioned. This 
key is very necessary for discovering the sense of the 
ancients. The Fathers of the seventh council made 
very good use of this, in giving the sense of two or 
three passages that were objected against them by the 

The first passage was out of Chrysostom : " Through 
the Scriptures we enjoy the presence of the saints, 
having the images not of their bodies but of their 
souls : for the things there spoken by them, are the 
images of their souls."t 

The second passage was out of Amphilochius : 
" Our care is, not to draw in colours on tables the 
natural faces of the saints, (for we have no need of 
any such thing;) but rather imitate their life and con- 
versation, by following the examples of their virtue." J 

The third passage was out of Asterius: " Draw not 
the portrait of Christ on thy garments; but rather 
bestow upon the poor the price that these expenses 
would amount to. For as for him, it is sufficient that 
he once humbled himself, in taking upon him our 

in carne seminat, (non ego, sed Apostolus loquitur,) metit corrup- 
tionem. — Ibid. 

* Id. ep. 50, adPammachium. 

t 'H/ueig Jul Ta>v ypx<ptov rug <ra>v ayim a7ro\*.uo/uiv 7rcif>ov<ria,s 9 cv%t ra>v 
o-go/ucctw etvroov, dxxn rw -[v)(Odv T*? ilnovcic i^ovrts' rcc y&f 7rctf avrcvv 
elpn/uivot, nroov -\>vx m !tl> ' Ta> v zlx,ov&; erriv. — Concil. 7, Act. 6. 

X 'Ou yup rots 7rtvdL%i roc < 7rpo<TO)7rct <ra>v ayta,v hct xj>a){jicLTa>v Imp-exis 
v/uiv iKru7rouv (ori oil ypȣo[Aiv rowTW') ctWd thv 7roKiTUctv ctlroev cTi ttpirtie 
ix/uLt/uuo-Qai. — Ibid. 

§ M» yo*<pz rov Xgirrov h i/uzrioic, a\x* u.tt7^\w <rm ra>v dyxxapcc'ruv 
tovtcdv £oc7ra.vnv mayois 7rpoo~7rcpi£ou' upKU yrtp duTco « (ju& rsis ho-ce{A.x.raHrws 
TstTntvaio-tg. — Ibid. 


Would not any man that hears these words, believe 
these three Fathers to have been Iconoclasts? I con- 
fess I cannot see what could have been said more 
expressly against images : and yet the second council 
of Nice pretends, that these Fathers here speak only 
by way of comparison;* meaning to say no more 
than that the images of Jesus Christ and of the saints 
are much less profitable than the reading of their 
books, or the imitation of their lives, or than charity 
toward the poor. 

I know very well that it is no easy matter suitably 
to apply this answer to the words of these Fathers : 
however, we may make this use of it; that seeing that 
the council of Nice has followed this rule, it is an evi- 
dent argument to us, that the sayings of the Fathers 
both may and ought sometimes to be taken in a quite 
different sense from what they seem to bear: so that 
it will clearly follow from hence that they are very 
difficult to be understood. 

Consider then, whether or not, among so many pas- 
sages as are adduced on the one side and the other on 
the present controversies, there may not be many of 
them which are to be understood, as just observed, by 
way of comparison only ; that is to say, quite contrary 
to what they seem to say. Now, as the rhetoric used 
by the Fathers has rendered their discourses, which 
were addresses to the people, full of obscurity; in like 
manner has their logic sown a thousand thorns and 
difficulties throughout their polemical writings. For 
many times, while they are in the heat of their dispu- 
tations, they have their mind so intent upon the ob- 
jects they are aiming at, that having regard to nothing 
else, they let fall such expressions as appear very 
strange, if they be considered in reference to some 
other points of Christian religion. 

Sometimes also, whilst they use their utmost endea- 
vour to beat down one error, they seem to run into 
the contrary one : as those who would straighten a 
crooked plant, are wont to bend it as much the con- 
trary way; that so having been Avorked out of its 

* Concil 7. ubi supra. 


former bent, it may at length rest in a middle posture : 
of which similitude Theodoret also makes use on this 
very subject. * 

In the same manner also did Athanasius explain 
those words of Dionysius Alexandrinus, which were 
urged against him by the Arians, as seeming to tell 
very much in their favour, as we have noticed before. 
" He wrote not this (answers Athanasius) positively, 
and with a purpose of giving an account of his belief 
in these words, but as being led on to utter them, by 
the occasion and the persons he discoursed with. In 
like manner (says he) as a gardener orders the same 
trees in a different manner, according to the difference 
of the soil where they are. Neither can any blame 
him for lopping off some and engrafting others; for 
planting this, and plucking up that by the roots. On 
the contrary rather, whoever knows the reason of this, 
will admire the variety and several ways of his indus- 
trious proceeding." t 

Afterwards Athanasius says, that Dionysius main- 
tained those positions, upon occasion of the error of 
certain bishops of Pentapolis, who maintained the 
opinion of Sabellius; and that he did this by dispen- 
sation, as he there speaks: — Ta v7toit*svesveu, xat' olxo- 
vofjuav iypa^sviX that is to say, not positively and sim- 
ply, but as in reference to such a certain case only : 
" Now no man ought (says he) to wrest to the worst 
sense those things which are either said or done by 
dispensation; or to interpret them as himself pleases:" 

Ov 6sl ds tfa xat olxovopiav ypayofisva xai ycvofjLsva, ifavta 
xaxoT?p07toj$ Ss^fcrflac, xai ei$ ihiav £%xelv sxaatov f5ov%r(Hv.§ 

* e H crqofya 7rpos revs avrtTraXovs Stafxa^ ms a/uirptas atria.' rabro efg 

rOVrO JtOLl rOtS qUTHHOjUOlS tylXOV 7r0t£lV OTCLV yap \$a&<Tl XUtXl/UWOV <pVT0V f OV 

/uovov 7rfios rev cpBcv dvio-ruo~t kavovx, axxa xect 7npa rev ibBeos etc ro znpoy 
avrtKhtvcvo-t pzpos, tvee rti \m ttxuov us revvavrtw \-niKXicrii rm ivQuav 7rpay~ 
{xarevtnirat <rrao~tv. — Theod. Dial. 3. c. 30. Sic et Bas. de Dion. Alex, 
ep. 41. 

t 'Ov% (XTrxcos, w? Trtartv iKrtQe t uevos. — Kaipcv, aat TrpoacnTrov 7rpo<pao~ts uxkvo-zv 
etbrov rotavra ypa-^at. — Kat yxp yiuapyos rm avrccv fovSpw (ixxcrz axxas S7rt/us- 
XurcUf h* rttv v7rcKetjUivw r»s ym 7rotor))ra' kzi ob ha rovro fxifx-^atro av rtg 
abroVj ort rovro juev re/utvu, etutvo <fe zyxwrpt^zt, &c. axxa km fxaxxov juaBw 
rnv ulrtav, Bav/uaa-u ro 7toikixov dvrov rus i7rto-rn/ny)s- — Athan. Ep. de fid. 
Dion. Alex. 

X Athan. Ep. de. fid. Dion. Alex. § Athan. ibid. 


In another place Athanasius in the same manner 
explains the words of the Fathers of the council of 
Antioch, who had denied the consubstantiality of the 
Son; showing that their intention was only to over- 
throw a position which Paulus Samosatenus had laid 
down; namely, that the Father and the Son were both 
one and the self-same person, and had not any distinct 

By this very rule also does Basil interpret that say- 
ing of Gregorius Neocsesariensis — "That the Father 
and the Son are two, according to our apprehension 
only; but that in hypostasis they are but one:" (na- 

tfspa xav Tlov irtwoia fisv slvai dvo, vrtoataGsi 8s s^;)* but 

alleging " That he spoke this, not dogmatically, but 
only in the heat of disputation:" — Tovto Bs oti ov Soy- 

[latixtos ftp^i'at, a%% y ayu>vL6tixcd$, &C.T 

From this it would appear that in all writings of 
the Fathers, the opinion which they oppugn is the 
rule and measure of whatsoever they are understood 
to affirm or deny. This is that which varies their 
sense and meaning, though oftentimes expressed in 
the same manner, and with the very same words, 
with that of the heretics. When they dispute against 
the Valentinians or the Manichees,a man would then 
believe them to be Pelagians ; and so likewise when 
they are contesting with the Pelagians, would you 
then imagine that they defended the opinions of the 
Manichees. If they dispute against Arius, you would 
think they favoured Sabellius : and again, when they 
oppose Sabellius, you would believe that they were 
Arians: as has been observed by the bishop of Biton- 
to,± particularly in Augustine. 

A system like this we may every day observe in 
our preachers. When they preach against covetous- 
ness, they seem in a manner to cry up prodigality; 
and if they declaim against prodigality, they then 
seem to approve covetousness. Thus it is also with 
the Protestants: when they would overthrow those 
empty figures, which are fathered by their adversa- 

* Basil. Ep. 64. f Ibid. 

t Corn. Mussus. Episc. Eitont. Comment, in ep. ad Rom. c. 5. 


ries upon those they call Sacramentarians, you would 
suppose that they maintained the real presence in the 
Eucharist, as the manner of speaking is. And when 
they dispute against Transubstantiation and the real 
presence, you would then swear that they defended 
the opinion of these very Sacramentarians. 

There is amongst Athanasius's works a certain 
very learned, elegant, and acute tract, wherein is de- 
bated, as strongly as can be, that point concerning the 
distinction of the two natures in Jesus Christ. Only 
read what he there says, in the beginning of that dis- 
course ; and you will think it could not proceed from 
any but from Nestorius's mouth: — npoj r ov$ %syovta$ 9 

Iov$ai,o$ icfriv, 6 pq opohoyotv Bbov iaravpcaaOai, * Yet yOU 

will perceive plainly, by the last chapter of the said 
book, that he was not of his opinion. Now if by any 
misfortune it should so have happened that this last 
chapter had been lost, Athanasius must necessarily 
have been taken for a Nestorian, by reason of the 
dangerous expressions which he has there made use 
of, being urged thereto through the warmth of the 
dispute he maintained against the opinions of the 

For the same reason also, Julius bishop of Rome 
seems to have favoured the contrary error, namely, 
that of Eutyches, in that epistle of his cited by Gen- 
nadius; which was indeed heretofore of good use, 
against the opinion of those men who maintained two 
persons in Christ; but which "is now found to be per- 
nicious (says he) by fomenting the impieties of Euty- 
ches and Timotheus."t This has given occasion to 
some of the more modern authors, who have written 
since Gennadius's time, J to think that this epistle was 
not written by Pope Julius, but had been attributed 
to him by the false dealing of the heretics. 

The case was the same with these ancient Fathers, 
as it is with the pilot of a ship, who is to steer his ves- 

* T. 2. Oper. Athan. Par. impr. an. 1627. 

t Nunc autem perniciosa probatur. Fomentum enim est Eutychia- 
nae et Timotheanae impietatis. — Gennad. in Catal. inter op. Hier. 

X Facund. Herm. defens. 3 capit. lib. 1. p. 40. quo loco vide Sir- 


sel between two rocks, one only of which he has dis- 
covered, the other lying hid under water. Taking no 
other care but to avoid the danger which he sees 
before his eyes, he very easily falls into that other 
which he never so much as suspected ; so that if he 
split not his vessel upon it, and be utterly cast away, 
he will with difficulty avoid receiving injury at least. 
Thus these Fathers saw indeed the rock of Paulus 
Samosatenus's doctrine, and that of Nestorius, but 
did not at all observe that of Arius, or of Eutyches, 
which lay yet under water and concealed. Thus 
employing their utmost endeavours to avoid the dan- 
ger of the two former, which they then only feared, 
they have scarcely escaped falling into, or at least 
touching very near upon the two latter, of which they 
then had no thought at all. 

Only imagine then, how warily and carefully it 
behoves us to walk amidst these disputes of the 
ancients, which are so beset with thorns; and with 
what judgment we are to distinguish between what 
things are principal, and what but accidental only; 
between the cause and the means; and between the 
excess and defect in their expressions, and their true 
sense and meaning: and then tell me whether you 
think it reasonable or not, that two or three words 
only, which may perhaps accidentally have fallen 
from them in their disputations, either against the 
Valentinians and Marcionites, or against the Nesto- 
rians or Eutychists, should be taken as their definitive 
sentiments upon such points as are now controverted 
amongst us — whether on free-will, or the properties 
of the body of Christ, and the nature of the Eu- 

Before we conclude this matter, however, we should 
observe that the change of customs, both civil and 
ecclesiastical, and the variation of words in their sig- 
nification, do not a little contribute to this difficulty 
of understanding the writings of the Fathers. Who 
knows not, and indeed who confesses not, both on the 
one side and on the other, that the outward face of 
the world, and even of the Church itself too, is in a 


manner wholly changed? I speak not here of the 
doctrine, but only of the upper garment, as I may call 
it, and the outward part of the Church. Where is 
the ancient discipline? What is become of the rigid 
and severe rules of those ancient times? Where are 
those mysterious ceremonies in baptism, and in the 
administration of the Eucharist? Where are those 
customs then used in the ordination of the clergy? 
All these things are now quite forgotten and buried; 
the Church by little and little having appareled itself 
in other colours and in another garb. 

The books then of the ancients being full of allu- 
sions to these things which we are in a manner now 
wholly ignorant of, it must necessarily follow from 
hence, that it will be a difficult matter for us to guess 
at their meaning in any such passages. But yet there 
arises much more confusion out of the words they 
used; which we have still retained, though in a dif- 
ferent signification. We have indeed these words, 
Po^e, Patriarch, Mass, Oblation, Station, Proces- 
sion, Mortal Sins, Penance, Confession, Satisfac- 
tion, Merit, Indulgence, as the ancients had, and 
make use of an infinite number of the like terms; 
but understand them all in a sense almost as far dif- 
ferent from theirs, as our age is removed from theirs : 
just in like manner as of old, under the Roman Em- 
perors, the names of offices, and of things, for a long 
time continued the same that had been in use in the 
time of the old republic; but with a sense quite dif- 
ferent from what they had formerly borne. Thus 
when we light upon any passage in the ancients, 
where the bishop of Rome is called Papa, or Pope, 
we immediately begin to fancy him with all the glory 
at this day belonging to this name; not disallowing 
him so much as his guard of Swiss, and his light 
horse : whereas they that are but indifferently versed 
in these books, know that the name Papa, or Pope, 
was given to every bishop. So likewise, when we 
meet with the word Exomologesis, or Confession, we 
presently fancy a man down upon his knees before 
his confessor, whispering in his ear all the sins he has 


committed. The word Mass likewise makes us prick 
up our ears, as if, even from those ancient times, the 
Avhole liturgy and all the ceremonies used at the cele- 
bration of the Eucharist, had been the very same that 
they are at this day. Whereas the learned of both 
parties acknowledge that these names have, since 
that time, lost very much of their old, and acquired 
new significations. 

But enough, and perhaps too much, has been said, 
for elucidating the points as regards the obscurities in 
the writings of the Fathers. We may therefore come 
to the conclusion, as we stated at the commencement, 
that it is not so easy a matter, as people may imagine, 
to discover by their writings what the sense of the 
ancient Church has been, concerning the points at 
this day controverted among us. 


Reason VI. — The Fathers frequently conceal their own private opin- 
ions, and say what they did not believe; either in reporting the 
opinion of others, without naming them, as in their commentaries; 
or in disputing against an adversary, where they make use of what- 
ever they are able; or in accommodating themselves to their audi- 
tory, as may be observed in their homilies. 

The Writings of the Fathers are, for the most part, of 
three kinds — Commentaries on the Holy Scriptures: 
Homilies delivered before the people ; and Polemical 
Discourses and Disputations with the Heretics. 

Now we have heretofore seen how much their rhe- 
torical style has darkened and rendered their sense 
obscure, in their writings of the first and second class ; 
and what their warmth of disputation and logical 
wranglings have caused in those of the latter. Let us 
now see if, after having drawn the expressions of the 
Fathers out of these thick clouds, and attained to a 
clear and perfect understanding of the sense of them, 



we maybe able at length to rest assured that we have 
discovered what their opinions were. I confess I 
could heartily wish that it were so : but considering 
what they have themselves informed us concerning 
the nature and manner of their writings, I am much 
afraid that we neither may, nor indeed ought, to con- 
sider ourselves in any certainty, even then, when we 
are upon these very terms. 

With respect to their Commentaries, which we have 
often occasion to consult, upon sundry passages of 
Scripture, on the meaning whereof we disagree among 
ourselves, hear what Jerome says, who was the most 
learned of all the Latins, and who yields but very little 
to any of the Greeks in these matters. 

" What (says he) is the business of a Commentary? 
It expounds the words of another man; and declares 
in plain terms the sense of things obscurely written ; 
it represents the several opinions of others, and says, 
Some expound this passage thus; and others interpret 
it thus. These endeavour to prove their sense and 
meaning by such testimonies and such reasons; to 
the end that the intelligent reader, having several ex- 
positions before him, and reading the judgments of 
divers men, some bringing what he may, and other 
perhaps what he cannot admit of; he may judge 
which among the rest is the truest ; and like a wise 
banker may refuse all adulterated coin. Now I would 
ask whether he ought to be accounted guilty of diver- 
sity in his interpretations, or of contradiction in the 
senses given, who in one and the same commentary 
shall deliver the expositions of divers persons?"* 
And so on, as it there follows in the place afore cited. 

* Commentarii quid operis habent? Altcrius dicta edisserunt; 
quae obscure scripta sunt, piano sermone manifestant, multorum sen- 
tentias replicant, et dicunt: Hunc locum quidam sic edisserunt; alii 
sic interpretantur ; illi sensum suum et intelligentiam his testimo- 
niis, et hac nituntur ratione firmare; ut prudens Lector ciim diver- 
sas explanationes legerit, et multorum vel probanda vel improbanda 
didicerit, judicet quid verius sit, et quasi bonus Trapezita adulterinae 
monetae pecuniam rcprobct. Num diversae interpretationis, et con- 
trariorum inter se sensuum tenebitur reus, qui in uno opere quod 
edisserit expositiones posuerit plurimorum ? — Hier. ep. ad Pammach. 
et Marcel. Apol. advers. Ruff. 


He speaks likewise to the same sense in various other 
places throughout his works : "This (says he) is the 
usual manner of commentaries, and the rule that com- 
mentators go by ; to set down in their expositions the 
several opinions they have met with; and to deliver, 
both what their own and what the judgment of others 
is upon the passage. And this is the practice not only 
of the interpreters of the Scriptures, but of the exposi- 
tors also of all kinds of secular learning, as well in the 
Greek as in the Latin tongue.* 

Now I must needs say, that this seems to be a very 
strange way of commenting. For what light, or what 
certainty can a reader be able to gather out of such a 
rhapsody of different opinions, jumbled together in a 
heap, without so much as intimating either which is 
good or bad; probable or necessary; to the purpose 
or not? But seeing that it has pleased Jerome to fol- 
low this course, whatsoever his reason be, you see 
plainly that we are not to take as his whatsoever he 
has delivered in his commentaries. And seeing also 
that he speaks in general terms, as he does, of the 
nature and manner of a commentary; we are not to 
doubt, but that the rest of the Fathers have chiefly 
been of the same judgment; and that consequently 
they took the same course in those expositions which 
we have of theirs. So that it will hence follow, that 
notwithstanding that we should chance to find in this 
kind of .writings of theirs, an opinion, or an interpre- 
tation, clearly delivered; yet may we not from thence 
conclude that this was the author's own opinion: for 
perhaps he only delivered it as the opinion of some 
other man. 

Now if the Fathers had been but careful to have 
taken in water out of wholesome fountains only, fill- 
ing up their commentaries with no other opinions or 
interpretations, except only those of persons of known 

* Hie est commentariorum mos,et explanantium regula, ut opiniones 
in expositione varias persequantur, et quid vel sibi vel aliis videatur 
edisserant. Et hoc non solum sanctarum interpretes scripturarum, 
sed saecularium quoque literarum explanatores faciunt, tcim Latinae 
linguae, quam Grascae. — Hier. ep. ad Pammach. et Apol. advers, Rvff. 


piety, faith, and learning, this mixture Avould have 
proved the less dangerous. For, notwithstanding that 
we should often be at a stand, and doubt whether 
that which we there find be the true sense and opinion 
of the Father whose name it bears; yet we might still 
rest assured, that though it should not perhaps be his, 
it must certainly be the opinion of some other good 
author, if not of equal yet of little less authority than 
he. But the mischief of it is, that they took a quite 
contrary course, many times filling their commentaries 
with very strange, senseless expositions, and some- 
times too with dangerous ones, and such as were taken 
out of very suspected authors, who had no very good 
name in the Church. 

Jerome tells us often,* (and who ever shall but 
diligently and attentively read him, may easily observe 
as much,) that his commentaries, (which make the 
greatest and most considerable part of his works,) are 
interwoven throughout with expositions taken out of 
Origen, Didymus, Apollinaris, and others, who were 
at that time ill-spoken of, as men who too presumptu- 
ously foisted upon the world their own private opin- 
ions, " Fashioning the mysteries of the Church out 
of their own private fancies:"! as Jerome himself 
sometimes said of Origen. 

Now this is strange to me: for no man is more 
strenuous in crying down these authors than he ; being 
indeed one of the principal heads of that holy league 
of Theophilus and Epiphanius, against Origen and 
his party. No man ever reproved any one so sharply 
as he has done Ruffinus, for offering to present to the 
view of the Latins the poisonous doctrines of Origen 
in those books of his which he had translated; and in 
the mean time he himself crams his own commenta- 
ries with the same; many times without using any 
preparation at all about them, or furnishing his reader 
with any counter-poison, in case he meets with any 

* Hier. praifat. in Comment, in ep. ad Galat. et Apol. 2 adv. Ruff, 
et ep. 89. ad August, et alibi soepe. 

t Ingenium suum facit Ecclesiae sacramenta. — Hier. Comment. 5. 
in Es.praf. De Origine. 


of them.* So likewise in his commentaries upon the 
Prophets, he ever and anon brings in diverse exposi- 
tions out of the Jews themselves: insomuch that, 
when you think you are reading and searching after 
the opinion and sense of Jerome upon such or such a 
passage, you often read that of a heretic, or of a Jew. 

If the "Fathers would but have taken the pains to 
have given us notice every time who the author was, 
whose opinion they adduced, this manner of comment- 
ing upon the Scriptures would have been much more 
beneficial to us, and less troublesome. For the name 
would have been useful in directing us what account 
we were to make of such opinions and expositions. 
But this they do but very seldom, as you may observe 
out of the expositions of Hilary, Ambrose, and others; 
who, robbing poor Origen without any mercy, do not 
yet do him the honour so much as scarcely to name 
him.t This is certain, that you shall find in Ambrose 
many times whole periods and whole pages too, taken 
out of Basil ; but, unless my memory fail me, you 
shall never find him once named there. 

These men deliver you the opinions and words of 
other men, just as if they were their own; and yet 
will not be bound to warrant them for good and 
sound. Jerome, in his Commentary upon the Epistle 
to the Galatians, expounds that passage where there 
is mention made of Paul reproving Peter, by way of 
dispensation ; telling us that Paul did not reprehend 
him, as if he had indeed accounted him blame-worthy; 
but only for the better edification, and bringing in of 
the Gentiles, by this seeming reprehension of his; who 
did but act this part with Peter, " To the end (says 
he) that the hypocrisy, or false show of observing 
the Law, which offended those among the Gentiles 
who had believed, might be corrected by the hypo- 
crisy or false show of reprehension; and that by 
this means both the one and the other might be 
saved: whilst the one, who praise circumcision, follow 

* Vid. Comment, in Nahum. 

t Vid. Hieron. Apol. adv. Ruff, ad Pammach. et Marcel, et Ep. 
141. ad Mareel. 


Peter; and those others, who refuse circumcision, 
applaud Paul's liberty."* 

Augustine, utterly disliking this exposition of Je- 
rome, wrote to him in his ordinary grave and meek 
way; modestly declaring the reasons why he could not 
assent to it ; which epistles of his are yet extant. The 
other answers him a thousand strange things; but 
particularly he there protests, that he will not warrant 
for sound whatever shall be found in that book of 
hisrt and to show that he does not do this without 
good reason, he sets down a certain passage out of his 
preface to it, which is very well worth our considera- 
tion. For after he has named the writings of Origen, 
Didymus, Apollinaris, Theodoras of Heraclea, Euse- 
bius of Emesa, Alexander the heretic, and others, he 
adds; " That I may therefore plainly tell the truth, I con- 
fess that I have read all these authors; and collecting 
together as much as I could in my memory, I pre- 
sently called for a scribe; to whom I dictated either 
my own conceptions, or those of other men, without 
remembering either the order, or the words some- 
times, or the sense. "± Do but reflect now, whether 
or not this be not an excellent rare way of comment- 
ing upon the Scriptures, and very well worthy to be 
esteemed and imitated by us! He then turns his 
address to Augustine, saying, " If therefore thou 
lightest upon any thing in my expositions which was 
worthy of reprehension, it would have stood better 
with thy learning to have consulted the Greek authors 
themselves; and to have seen, whether what I have 
written be found in them or not; and if not, then to 
have condemned it as my own private opinion."§ 

* Ut hypocrisis observandae Legis, quae nocebat iis qui ex gentibus 
crediderant, correptionis hypocrisi emendaretur, et uterque populus 
salvus fieret; dum et qui circumcisionem laudant, Petrum sequuntur, 
et qui circumcidi nolunt, Pauli praedicant libertatem. — Id. Comment, 
in ep. ad Galat. 

t Hieron. ep. ad August, qua? est 89. 

t Itaque ut simpliciter fatear, legi haec omnia, et in mente mea 
plurima coacervans, accito notario, vel mea vel aliena dictavi, nee 
ordinis, nee verborum interdum, nee sensuum memor. — Hier. ibid. 

§ Si quid igitur reprehensione dignum putaveras in explanatione 
nostra, eruditionis tuas fuerat quaerere, &c. — Id. ibid. Vide et Apol. 
contra Rvff. 


And he elsewhere gives the same answer to Ruffinus, 
who upbraids him for some absurd passages in his 
Commentaries upon the Prophet Daniel.* 

Now, according to this statement, if we would 
know whether or not what we meet with in Jerome's 
commentaries, be his own proper sense or not; we 
must first turn over the books of all these ancient 
Greeks; that is to say, we mrnst do that which is now 
impossible to be done, seeing that the writings of the 
greatest part of them are utterly lost; and must not 
attribute anything to him, as his proper opinion, how 
clearly and expressly soever it be delivered, unless we 
are first able to make it appear, that it is not to be 
found in any of those authors, out of whose writings 
he has patched up his commentaries. For if any one 
of them be found to have delivered anything you here 
meet with; you are to take notice that it belongs to 
that author; Jerome in this case having been only his 
transcriber, or at most but his translator. So that 
you may be able perhaps, by the reading of books in 
this manner collected, to judge whether the Fathers 
have had the skill to make a clever and artificial con- 
nexion and digestion of those things which they 
gleaned out of so many several authors or not. 
Whether or not they believed all that they have set 
down in their books, you will be no more able to dis- 
cover, than you can judge what belief any man is of 
by the books he transcribes; or can guess at the 
opinions of an interpreter by the books he translates. 
Whence we may conclude, that testimonies brought 
out of such books as these are of little or no force at 
all, either for or against us. 

This seems to have been the opinion of cardinal 
Bellarmine, where to a certain objection brought out 
of one of Jerome's books, he makes this answer : 
" That the author in that place speaks according to 
the opinion of others; as he often does in his com- 
mentaries upon the Epistle to the Ephesians, and in 
other places." The like course has cardinal Perron 
taken, where the Protestants have urged against the 

* Id. Apol. 2. adv. Ruff. 


Church of Rome the authority of Hilary, on the canon 
of the Scriptures of the Old Testament; confidently 
answering that the notes cited out of that place of 
Hilary are not his, but Origen's, in his commentary 
upon the first Psalm; part of whose words he had 
transcribed and inserted in his own prologue upon the 
Psalms ; and yet Hilary neither so much as names 
Origen, nor yet gives us any intimation at all, whether 
we are to receive what is there spoken concerning the 
Scriptures, as from Origen or from himself. The 
ground of this answer of his is taken from what Je- 
rome has testified in various places; namely, that 
Hilary has transcribed the greatest part of his com- 
mentaries out of the said Origen. 

Now if we but rightly consider the account which 
Jerome has given, as we showed before, of all com- 
mentaries in general, how can we have any assurance 
whether that which the Fathers deliver in this kind 
of writings, be their own real opinion, or only some 
other man's transcribed? and if we can have no as- 
surance hereof, how can we then consider them of any 
force at all either for or against us? So that it is most 
evident, that this method which the Fathers have ob- 
served in their expositions of the Scriptures, must 
render the things themselves very doubtful, however 
clearly and expressly they have delivered themselves. 

But has it not behoved them to be more careful in 
their Homilies, or Sermons; and to deliver nothing 
there but what has been their own proper opinion and 
belief? May we not, at least in this particular, rest 
assured that they have spoken nothing but from their 
very soul ; and that their tongues have expressed here 
their own opinions only, and not those of other men? 
Certainly, in all reason, they should not have uttered 
any thing in the sacred place from whence they taught 
their people, but what they conceived to have been 
most true. Yet besides what we have heretofore no- 
ticed as to this particular, (namely, that they did not 
always speak out the whole truth, but concealed some- 
thing of it, as not so fit for the ears either of the Pagans 
or of the weaker sort of Christians,) cardinal Perron, 


that great and curious inquirer into all the customs of 
the ancients, has informed us that, in regard to the 
aforesaid considerations, they have sometimes gone yet 
further.* For, in expounding the Scriptures to the 
people, where the Catechumens were present, if by 
chance they fell upon any passage where the Sacra- 
ments were spoken of, that they might not discover 
these mysteries, they would then make bold to wrest 
the text a little, and instead of giving them the true 
and real interpretation of the place which they them- 
selves knew to be such, they would only present their 
auditory with an allegorical and symbolical, and (as 
this cardinal says,) an accidental and collateral one ; 
only to give them some kind of small satisfaction; in- 
asmuch as, if in such cases they should have been 
utterly silent, it would questionless have much amazed 
their auditors, and in some degree also have scanda- 
lized and given them offence. To satisfy therefore 
their expectation, and yet to keep these mysteries 
still concealed from them, they evasively waived the 
business, laying before them that which they account- 
ed not the best and truest, but the fittest for their pur- 
pose and design. Thus do we sometimes please little 
children with an apple, or some little toy, to take them 
off the desire they have for something of greater 
value. Those therefore who take all that the Fathers 
deliver in the like places for good and solid exposi- 
tions, and such as they themselves really believed, 
very much deceive themselves; and believing they 
have a solid body in their arms, embrace only an 
empty shadow. 

Now we should hardly believe those holy men to 
have been guilty of any such juggling as this, had we 
not the word of so eminent a cardinal for our belief; 
upon whose authority we have, for this once, adven- 
tured to propose it to the reader's consideration, and 
shall withal produce some few examples taken out of 
the same author. 

Augustine being to expound the sixth chapter of 

* Perron, of the Euchar. 1. 1, c. 10. Aut. 24, ch. 15, et passim 
locis infra citandis. 


the Gospel of John, (where, as he conceives, our Sa- 
viour Christ is very copious in his discourse concern- 
ing the Eucharist,) presently begins to obumbrate 
and disguise the mystery with such a number of alle- 
gories, riddles, and ambiguities, as that, if you dare 
believe the cardinal, throughout the whole twenty- 
sixth tract, there is not one period but has in it some 
elusion, diversion, or diminution of the true and solid 
definition of this article. Thus does he interpret the 
bread which came down from heaven to be the gift 
of the Holy Ghost: "Our Saviour (says he) purposing 
to send down the Holy Ghost, saith that it is the 
bread which descended from heaven."* 

You may, if you please, believe, upon the faith of 
this Father, that this is the true sense and meaning of 
the passage. But yet the cardinal makes it appear, 
out of Calvin, that it cannot be so. He likewise con- 
tradicts, after the same manner, that which the same 
Father says a little after, to wit, that the purpose of 
our Saviour was to let us understand that this meat 
and drink, whereof he speaks in St. John, is the com- 
munion and fellowship, that is between his body and 
his members, who are the holy Church, in his faithful 
servants, predestinated, called, justified, and glorified. 

Had not the cardinal given us this information, who 
would ever have imagined that this author (who was 
so conscientious as to make it a great quarrel with 
Jerome, only for having laid dissimulation to Paul's 
charge,) should here himself say that our Saviour 
Christ would have us to understand his words thus, 
unless he himself really believed this to be the true 
sense and meaning of them? The cardinal also ap- 
plies this very consideration to the greatest portion 
of those other passages, cited out of this Father by 
the Protestants ; namely, " to believe in Christ is to 
eat the Bread of Life;" and to this other; " He that 
believes in him eats of it ; and he is invisibly fed by 
it, because that he is also invisibly born again:" and 
to this also ; " Whosoever eats of this bread, he shall 
never die ; but this is to be understood of him that 

* Perron. Tract, de S. August, c. 12, et lib. 2, de Euch. Aut. 22, c. 1. 


eats of it, according to the virtue of the sacrament; 
and not according to the visible sacrament: of him 
that eats of it internally, and not externally; of him 
that eats of it with his heart, and not of him that 
chews it with his teeth." 

In all these places the cardinal pretends that Augus- 
tine suppresses the true, full, and solid definition of 
this manducation, or eating of the flesh, and drinking 
the blood of Christ ; and instead thereof presents this 
allegorical and accidental meditation to the catechu- 
mens, only to cast a mist, as it were, before their 
eyes, and to elude their curiosity.* He makes use of 
the same course also in answering those passages 
which are quoted by the Protestants from Theodoret, 
and Gregory Nazianzen;t who, he says, called the 
Eucharist " the antitype of the body and blood of 
Christ," t in the same manner as Abraham, being 
among infidels, called Sarah his sister; concealing 
something of what was true, but yet affirming nothing 
that was false. He likewise explains after the same 
manner this passage, out of the Psedagogus of Cle- 
mens Alexandrinus; "The flesh and the blood of 
Christ is faith and the promise."§ In a word, he is 
so much pleased with this observation, that he adopts 
it at every turn: and indeed we may very well say, 
that this is his main treasury, out of which he pro- 
duces the greatest part of those subtle and so much 
admired solutions he gives to the passages objected 
against them out of the Fathers. |j 

Those who are disposed to examine these passages 
of his, may probably find something to retort upon 
him, in some of those applications he has there made. 
It is enough for our present purpose, that he admits 
that the Fathers, in their sermons and discourses made 
to the people, have often made use of this species of 
art; from which it clearly follows, that we cannot 

* Perron. Tract, de Euch. 1. 2, Aut. 24, c. 15. 

f Perron, de Euch. 1. 2, Aut. 18, c. 5. t Id. ibid. 

§ Perron de Euch.l. 2, Aut. 5. 

|| Id. de Euch. pages 52, 329, 332, 339, 344, 356, 417, 420, 434, 
501, 503, 508, 510, 516; et Trac. de S. August, pp. 55, 57, 95, 145, 


then possibly have any assurance that they them- 
selves accounted, as solid and full, such expositions 
and opinions as they have delivered in these writings 
of theirs. 

As the cardinal endeavours by this means to weaken 
the force of those passages of Augustine, Gregory 
Nazianzen, Theodoret, and Clemens Alexandrinus, 
may not the Protestants, when any passages are 
brought against them out of the homilies of Chrysos- 
tom, or Eucherius, which seem to tell strongly against 
their opinions, be allowed to have the same liberty, 
and to answer, that these Fathers, speaking before the 
people, made use of this dispensation, speaking that 
which they thought to be, not the best and truest, but 
the most proper for the edification of others, and that 
they had an apprehension that a bare and downright 
expression of the truth might possibly have abated 
the warmth of the people's devotion? there being 
apparently (say they) more cause to doubt, that the 
people might disesteem and slight the sacrament, than 
to fear lest they should adore it: indeed the Fathers 
are much more careful in concealing the matter of the 
sacrament, the outward appearance whereof is apt to 
make it disesteemed, than they are in concealing the 
form, which is of so venerable a nature; saying often, 
and in express terms, that it is " the body of Christ;" 
but ordinarily forbearing to say that it is, or that it 
was, "a piece of bread." 

We now enter upon the third class of the writings 
of the ancients, wherein the Fathers dispute against 
the adversaries of their faith; namely, the Pagans, 
Jews, and Heretics. 

We have heretofore observed how much obscurity 
the earnestness and warmth of spirit have caused in 
the expressions of the Fathers : and this defect arises 
from mere feeling ; and not from any design or pur- 
pose that they had of speaking thus rather than other- 
wise. For seeing that all kind of impassioned feeling 
disturbs, and in some measure confounds, the judg- 
ment; and seeing it is difficult for a man, however 
holy he be, to go through a disputation, without some 


alteration in his temper; especially if it be of any 
importance, as all those on religion are, we are not to 
wonder, if in these cases we sometimes find the lan- 
guage of the Fathers somewhat confused, and appear- 
ing of several colours; just as passion usually tinges 
both the countenance and language of those it takes 
possession of. 

Besides the confusion which is caused merely by 
the agitation of the spirits, without the Fathers so 
much as thinking of it, we are here further to take 
notice, that the proper design and the law of the 
method observed in disputations, is the cause of our 
encountering with so many and great difficulties. For 
their opinion was, that in this kind of writing it was 
lawful for them to say and make use of any thing that 
might advance their cause, although it were other- 
wise but light and trivial, or perhaps also contrary to 
what themselves believed; and so, on the other side, 
to conceal and reject whatsoever might prejudice their 
cause, though otherwise true and allowable. 

Now that this observation may not seem strange 
and incredible, as coming out of my mouth, let us 
hear what the Fathers themselves say in this particu- 
lar. And first let us hear Jerome, who was the 
greatest critic of them all; and who, by often exer- 
cising the strength of his admirable wit, both by him- 
self and with others, has observed more respecting 
the style, method, natural disposition, and opinions of 
the Fathers, than any other. 

" We have learned together, (says he, writing to 
Pammachius,) that there are divers sorts of discourse; 
and among the rest, that it is one thing to write 
yvnvacft(,xa>$ (by way of disputation,) and another thing 
to write Soy^artxcos (by way of instruction.) In the 
former of these the disputes are free and discursive ; 
where, in answering an adversary, and proposing one 
time one thing, and another time another, a man 
argues as he pleases ; speaking one thing and doing 
another; showing bread, (as it is in the proverb,) and 
holding a stone in his hand. Whereas in the second 
kind, an open front, and, if I may so speak, ingenu- 


ousness are required. It is one thing to make inquiries, 
and another to define : in the one we must fight, in 
the other we must teach. Thou seest me in a com- 
bat, and in peril of my life ; and dost thou come with 
thy grave instructions like some reverend schoolmas- 
ter? Do not wound me by stealth, and from whence 
I least expected it. Let thy sword strike directly at 
me : it is a shame for thee to wound thy enemy by 
guile and not by strength : as if it were not a piece of 
the greatest mastery in fighting to threaten one part, 
but hit another. I beseech you read Demosthenes, 
read Tully : and lest perhaps you should refuse orators 
whose profession it is to propose things rather proba- 
ble than true, read Plato, Theophrastus, Xenophon, 
Aristotle, and others; who, springing all from Socrates' 
fountain, as so many different rivulets, ran several 
ways : What can you find in them that is clear and 
open? what word in them but hath its design? and 
what design, but of victory only? Origen, Metho- 
dius, Eusebius, Apollinaris, have written largely 
against Celsus and Porphyry. Only observe what 
manner of arguments, and what slippery problems, 
they made use of, for subverting those works which 
had been wrought by the spirit of the devil: and how 
on being sometimes forced to speak, they alleged 
against the Gentiles, not that which they believed, but 
that which was most necessary to be said. I shall not 
here speak anything of the Latin writers, as Tertul- 
lian, Cyprian, Minucius, Victorinus, Lactantius, and 
Hilary, lest I might seem rather to accuse others, than 
to defend myself."* 

* Simul didicimus plura esse videlicet genera dicendi, et inter 
caetera aliud esse yvuvsto-raieos scribere, aliud Joy/uci<ruta)C. In priori 
vagam esse disputationem, et adversario respondentem nunc haec, 
nunc ilia proponere, argumentari ut libet, aliud loqui, aliud agere, 
panem, (ut dicitur) ostendere, lapidem tenere. In sequenti autem 
aperta frons, et, ut ita dicam, ingenuitas necessaria est. Aliud est 
quaerere, aliud definire : in altero pugnandum, in altero docendum 
est. Tu me stantem in prcelio, et de vita periclitantem, studiosus 
magister doceas ? Noli ex obliquo, et unde non putaris, vulnus 
inferre. Directo percute gladio. Turpe tibi est hostem dolis ferire, 
non viribus. Quasi non et hcec ars summa pugnantium sit, alibi 
minari, alibi percutere. Legite obsecro vos Demosthenem, legite 


Thus Jerome. As for that which he afterwards 
adds, respecting Paul, whom he believes to have prac- 
tised the very same arts, this is no proper place to 
examine either the truth or the use of this opinion of 
his; as our purpose is here to treat of the Fathers 
only. Now you see that he testifies clearly, that they 
were wont, in their disputations, sometimes to say 
one thing, and believe another; to show us bread, and 
keep a stone in their hand ; to threaten one part, and 
to hit another; and that they were sometimes con- 
strained to fit their words, not to their own proper 
thoughts, but to the present necessity. The very same 
thing is confessed also by Athanasius, speaking of 
Dionysius Alexandrinus,* as noticed before; namely, 
that he wrote, not simply and plainly, as giving us an 
account of his own belief, but that he was moved, 
and as it were forced, to speak as he did, by rea- 
son of the occasion, and of the person he disputed 

The same account does Basil give of a certain pas- 
sage of Gregorius Neocaesariensis;t answering for 
him with this distinction; " That he spake not in that 
place dogmatically ', but only by way of economy or 
dispensation:" Ta xat oLxovopvav ypacpo^sfa.J By this 
term is meant, that a man keeps to himself what he 
believes, and proposes some other thing lying wide of 
his own opinion, either this way or that way ; being 
induced so to do from some particular considerations. 

As we sometimes see that the water ascends, being 
forced to mount up to fill some space, which other- 

Tullium : ac ne forsitan rhetores vobis displiceant, quorum arlis est 
verisimilia magis quam vera dicere, legite Piatonem, Theophrastum, 
Xenophontem, Aristotelem, et reliquos qui de Socratis fonte manantes 
diversis cucurrere rivulis; quid in illis apertum, quid simplex est? 
quae verba non sensuum ? qui sensus non victoriae ? Considerate qui- 
bus argumentis, et quam lubricis problematibus diaboli spiritu con- 
texta subvertant; etquia interdum coguntur loqui, non quod sentiunt, 
sed quod necesse est, dicunt adversus ea quae dicunt Gentiles. Taceo 
de Latinis scriptoribus, Tertulliano, Cypriano, Minucio, Victorino, 
Lactantio, Hilario, ne non tarn me defendisse, quam alios videar 

* Athan. ep. de fide Dion. Alex. t Basil, sup. c. 5. 

X Athan. cp. de fide Dion. Alex. 



wise would remain void, — you will not, I hope, con- 
clude from hence, that this is its natural and ordinary- 
motion, — in like manner was it with the Fathers; 
who, being sometimes harassed and hard driven to it 
in disputation, in order to avoid, so to speak, some 
certain vacuum which they were afraid of, sometimes 
left their natural motion, and their proper sense and 
opinion, and took up some other contrary one, accord- 
ing to the necessity of the occasion. Indeed, though 
Jerome had not noticed it, the fact would evidently 
enough have appeared from their writings. Other- 
wise, how could any one possibly have believed that 
they could have spoken so differently as they have 
done in many particulars, blowing hot and cold with 
one and the same mouth? How could they possibly 
have delivered so many things contrary either to rea- 
son, or to the Scriptures, or to the Fathers? " For, (as 
the same Jerome says) who is so very a blockhead, 
and so ignorant in the art of writing, as to praise and 
condemn one and the same thing; pull down what he 
had built; and build what he had pulled down?"* 
Now the Fathers are often observed to have done this 
very thing. We are therefore to conclude, that they 
have been forced to it, out of some special design; 
and that they did it, as they used to speak, by econo- 
my, or particular dispensation; seeing that it is evi- 
dent that the greatest part of them were very able 

Jerome, for example, recommending the going on 
pilgrimage to Jerusalem, went so far as to say, " That 
it Avas a part of our faith to go and worship in those 
places where the feet of our Saviour once stood, and 
to have a sight of the tracks, which at this day con- 
tinue fresh, both of his nativity, cross, and passion."! 
Now how does this agree with that long discourse 
which he has made in another place, to a quite con- 

* Quis enim tarn hebes, et sic in scribendo rudis est, ut idem Iaudet 
et damnet, sedificata destruat, et destructa sedificet ? — Hier. ep. 50, ad 

f Certe adorasse ubi steterunt pedes Domini, pars fidei est, &c.— • 
Hier. ep. ad Desider. qua est 144. 


trary sense? namely, in his Epistle to Paulinus, 
where at last concluding, he gives him this reason of 
the length of his discourse: "To the end (says he) 
that thou mayest not think that any thing is wanting 
to the completing of thy faith, because thou hast not 
visited Jerusalem; or that we are any whit the better 
for having the opportunity of dwelling in this place/'* 
And here he concurs with Gregory Nyssen, who has 
written a discourse expressly against the opinion of 
those "who account it to be one of the parts of piety 
to have visited Jerusalem:" — n*pt tav arcovtw tit 

'IfpotfoXi^a, &C. ot$ Iv pspsc tvaefis taj vsvoyLiG'to.i to tfov$ iv 

Let any rational man therefore now judge, whether 
or not this course must not necessarily embroil and 
enshroud in almost inexplicable difficulties the wri- 
tings of the Fathers. For how is it possible that we 
should be able to judge when they speak as they 
thought, and when not ? whether they mean really 
what they say, or whether they make but a flourish 
only ? whether the bread which they show us be to 
deceive or to feed us? whether the problems they pro- 
pose be solid or slippery ones ? whether their positions 
be dogmatical, or economical? Certainly, if our 
court judgments were framed after this manner, Ave 
should never hope to have an end in any suit of law. 
As for that which Jerome says, " That an intelligent 
and favourable reader ought to judge of those things 
which seem harsh, from the rest of the discourse, and 
not immediately to condemn an author for having 
delivered, in one and the same book, contrary opin- 
ions;" J I confess that this is very true: but yet it 
does not remove the difficulty. For however intelli- 
gent and discerning a man the reader may be, it will 

* Quorsum (inquies) hsec tarn longo repetiti principio ? Videlicet 
ne quidquam fidei tua? deesse putes, quia Hierosolymara non vidisti, 
nee nos idcircd meliores existimes quod hujus loci habitaculo fruimur. 
— Id. ep. 13. ad Paulin. 

t Greg. Nyss. in Ep. Tom. 2. 

X Debuerat prudens et benignus lector etiam ea quae videntur dura 
aestimare de eaeteris, et non in uno atque eodem libro criminari me 
diversas sententias protulisse. — Hier. ep. 50. ad Pam. 


very often be impossible for him to form a right judg- 
ment in this particular: as for example, when those 
other things are wanting, which Jerome would have 
a man to make the measure of his judgment; or 
when any one brings us no more of an author than 
a bare sentence, — the chapter and book where these 
words are, which need to be explained, being quite out 
of his memory. How many such are adduced every 
day in our disputations ? What can we now do, or 
which way shall we turn ourselves, if meeting with a 
passage from any of the Fathers that needs to be ex- 
plained, we can find no other place in him on the 
same point ; or if there be none found but what is as 
doubtful as the other, or that is not controverted in 
some other book ? 

Who shall regulate us amidst such contradictions as 
these ? But, what is yet worse, those things which 
Jerome prescribes us for a rule and direction to our 
judgment, are now in these days of ours very unsea- 
sonable ; as being harsh as to the one side, and pleasing 
to the other, according to men's several affections and 
interest, agreeably to which they are wont to interpret 
and judge of the Fathers, whereas we should rather 
search in them which way we are to direct our judg- 
ments. And that favourableness which Jerome re- 
quires in us cannot be here of any use, but may pos- 
sibly besides do very much harm. For the greater 
the regard we bear to any Father, the greater care and 
pains shall we take in vindicating his words, and in- 
terpreting them in a sense as far different as we can 
from what we have long since condemned as errone- 
ous and unsound; though possibly this may have 
been his real sense and opinion. As for example, in 
those passages before cited out of Jerome and Gregory 
Nyssen, the Protestant accounts that a very harsh 
piece of doctrine, which however his adversary is 
well pleased with: the one labours to explain what 
appears very easy to the other: the one takes that for 
text, which the other accounts but as a gloss. And thus 
the greater affection men bear to the name and autho- 
rity of any one of the Fathers, the more do they 


labour and use their utmost endeavours to bring him 
over to speak to their opinion ; that is to say, in plain 
truth, to force him out of his own: it being impossible 
that he should hold both opinions at once. 

We shall here therefore conclude, that however 
clear and express the words of the Fathers may be, 
yet nevertheless will it often happen, that we cannot 
have any assurance that we have their sense express- 
ed in them; whether it be, in their Expositions of the 
Scriptures; or in their Homilies and Sermons before 
the people; or lastly, in their Disputations with their 
adversaries regarding their Faith. 


Reason VII. — The Fathers have not always held the same doctrine; 
but have changed some of their opinions, according as their judg- 
ment has become matured by study or age. 

Amongst all the Ecclesiastical writers, those of the 
Old and New Testament only have received the 
knowledge of Divine things by an extraordinary in- 
spiration. The rest have acquired their knowledge 
by the ordinary means of instruction, reading, and 
meditation; so that this knowledge came not to them 
in an instant, as it did to the others, but increased by 
degrees, ripening by little and little in proportion as 
they grew in years: whence it is, that their writings 
are not all of the same weight, or of the same value. 
For who sees not, that what they, as it were, sport- 
ingly wrote in their younger years, is of much less 
consideration than those other productions which they 
wrote in their mature age? Who, for instance, would 
equal the authority of that epistle of Jerome to Helio- 
dorus* (written by him when he had but newly left 

* Hier. ep. 1. ad Heliodor. Vid. ep. 2, ad Nepob 


the schools of Rhetoric, being yet a child, and full of 
that innocent and inconsiderate heat which usually 
accompanies those years,) to that of those other graver 
pieces which he afterwards gave to the Church, when 
he had arrived at his full strength and ripeness of 
mind, and to the perfection of his studies? 

Augustine has left us a remarkable testimony, that 
the Fathers profited by age and study in the know- 
ledge of the truth, when, as in his old age, taking pen 
in hand, he reviewed and corrected all that he had 
ever written during his whole life; faithfully and in- 
genuously noting whatsoever he thought worthy of 
reprehension, and giving us all his animadversions 
collected together in the Books of his Retractations, 
which in my judgment is the most glorious and most 
excellent of all those many monuments which he has 
left to posterity; whether you consider the learning, 
or the modesty and sincerity of the man. 

Jerome reports that Origen also, long before, had in 
his old age written an epistle to Fabianus bishop of 
Rome, wherein he confesses that he repented of many 
things which he had taught and written.* Neither is 
there any doubt but that some similar thing may have 
happened to most of the other Fathers, and that they 
may have disallowed of that which they had former- 
ly believed as true. 

Now from this consideration there arises a new 
difficulty, which we are to grapple with in this our 
inquiry into the true and genuine sense of the Fathers 
respecting our present controversies. For, seeing that 
the condition and nature of their writings are such, it 
is most evident that when we would make use of any 
of their opinions, it will concern us to be very well 
assured that they have not only sometimes either held 
or written the same, but that they have moreover per- 
severed in them to the end. Whence Vincentius Liri- 
nensist in that passage of his which is so often urged, 

* Ipse Origenes in Epistola quam scribit ad Fabianum, Romanae 
urbis Episcopum, poenitentiam agit cur talia scripserit, &c. — Hier. 
ep. 65, de Erroribus Origenis. 

t Vincent. Lirinens. lib. adv. Novit. seu Common. 


for making use of the ancient authors in deciding our 
present controversies, thinks it not fit that we should 
be bound to receive whatsoever they have said, for 
certain and undoubted truth, unless they have assured 
and confirmed it to us by their perseverance in the 
same. Cardinal Perron also evidently shows us the 
same way, by his own practice : for, disputing about 
the Canon of the Holy Scriptures, (which he pretends 
to have been always the very same in the Western 
Church, with that which is delivered to us by the 
Third Council of Carthage, where the Maccabees are 
reckoned in among the rest,) and finding himself 
hardly pressed by some certain passages alleged by 
the Protestants out of Jerome to the contrary, he an- 
swers the objection, by saying, among other things, 
that this Father, when he wrote the said passages, was 
not yet come to the ripeness of his judgment, and per- 
fection of his studies ;* whereas afterwards, when he 
was now more fully instructed in the truth of the 
sense of the Church, he changed his opinion, and re- 
tracted (as this cardinal says) both in general and in 
particular, whatsoever he had before written in those 
three Prologues, where he had excluded the Macca- 
bees out of the canon.t And so likewise to another 
objection brought to the same purpose out of the 
Commentaries of Gregory the Great, he gives the like 
answer, saying that Gregory, when he wrote that 
piece, was not yet come to be Pope, but was a plain 
Deacon only, being at that time employed at Constan- 
tinople as the Pope's nuncio to the Greeks. 

Now these answers of his are either insufficient, or 
else it will necessarily follow from hence, that we 
ought not to rest certainly satisfied in the testimony 
of any Father; except we first be assured, that not 
only he never afterwards retracted that opinion of his; 
but that besides, he wrote it in the strength and ripe- 
ness of his judgment. And see now how we are 
fallen into a new labyrinth. For, first of all, from 
whence and by what means may we be able to come, 
truly and certainly, to the knowledge of this secret ; 
* Perron's Repl. 1. 1. c. 50. + Id. Ibid. 


since we can hardly meet with any conjectures, tend- 
ing to the making of this discovery, namely, whether 
a Father has in his old age changed his opinion on 
that point for which it is produced against us or not? 

If they had all of them been either able or willing 
to imitate the modesty of Augustine, we should then 
have had little left to trouble us. But you will hardly 
find any either of the ancients, or of those of later 
times, that have followed this example ; unless it be 
cardinal Bellarmine, who has lately thought good to 
revive this piece of modesty which had lain dead and 
buried for the space of so many ages together, by 
writing a Book of Retractations, which is very differ- 
ently received by the learned of both religions. Yet, 
if you are fastidious upon it, with cardinal Perron, 
and will not allow the saying of a Father to be of any 
value, unless it were written by him after the matu- 
rity of his studies, I shall then despair of our ever 
making any progress, so much as one step forward, 
by this means, in the business in hand. For both 
parties will say, on every testimony that shall be pro- 
duced against them, How do we know whether this 
Father had arrived at the maturity of his judgment 
when he wrote this book, or not? Who can tell 
whether or not, those days of his life that he enjoyed 
after the writing thereof, might not have bestowed 
clearness on his understanding, as well as whiteness 
on his head; and have changed his judgment as well 
as his hair? 

We will here suppose that no such thing appears 
in any of his other writings. How many authors are 
there who have changed their opinions, and yet have 
not retracted what they had formerly written ? But 
suppose now that we should have lost that particular 
tract wherein the author had given testimony of the 
changing of his opinion, what should we do in this 
case ? If time should have deprived us of Augustine's 
Retractations, and some other of his later writings, 
as it has of an infinite number of other productions, 
both of his and of the other Fathers, which would 
have been of as great importance to us, we must cer- 


tainly have thought that he had believed that the 
cause of predestination is the prescience or foreseeing 
of the faith of men ; if we only read what he says in 
one of the books which he first wrote, " That God 
has not elected the works of any man, according to 
his prescience ; seeing that it is He himself that gives 
the same to a man. But that He has elected his faith 
by His prescience ; that is, He has elected those who 
He foresaw would believe His word; that is to say, 
He made choice of them to bestow His Holy Spirit 
upon ; that so by doing good works they might attain 
everlasting life."* 

Now the Pelagians and Semi-Pelagians would have 
brought this passage as an infallible argument that 
Augustine was of their opinion, but that his Retracta- 
tions, and his other books which were written after- 
wards, clearly make it appear that this argument is 
of no force at all ; forasmuch as this learned Father, 
having afterwards better considered of this point, 
wholly altered his opinion: "I had not (says he) as 
yet diligently enough inquired into, nor found out, 
what the election of grace was, whereof the Apostle 
speaks in these words : ' There is a remnant (to be 
saved) according to the election of grace ;' which cer- 
tainly is not grace, if any merits preceded it; so that 
what is given should be rendered rather as due to 
merits, than as given freely by grace."t 

Now who knows but that among those Fathers 
whom we so confidently adduce every day, some of 
them may have retracted those things which we at 
this day read in their works; and that time may have 
devoured the retractations of their opinions, and may 
have left us only their errors? Besides, who knows 
and can truly inform us what date their writings bear? 
whether they were the fruits of their spring of life, or 
of their summer, or of their autumn? whether they 

* Non ergo elegit Deus opera cujusquam in praescientia, quae ipse 
daturus est : sed fidem elegit, &c. — August, Exposit. quar. prop, ex 
ep. Rom. proposit. 60. 

t Nondurn diligentius quaesiveram nee adhuc inveneram, qualis sit 
Electio Gratia?, de qua idem dicit Apostolus, Reliquiae, &c. — Id. Re- 
tract. 1. 1. cap. 23. 


were gathered green, or were suffered to ripen upon 
the tree ? Doubtless this whole inquiry is very intri- 
cate ; there being scarcely any mark of their season of 
life to be found in the greatest part of them. There 
are indeed some few of them that have some of these 
marks, but yet they are so doubtful and uncertain, 
that the most able and distinguished critics are some- 
times deceived in their inquiry on this matter. 

When all is done, who knows not that there are 
some trees that bear their summer fruit even in the 
very beginning of the summer, when the spring time 
is as yet hardly past? And again, the fruits which are 
gathered at the end of the later season are not always 
the ripest: for time, instead of ripening, many times 
rots them. In like manner is it also with men, and 
consequently with the Fathers. Sometimes their sum- 
mer yields much more and better fruit than their 
autumn. For as for the winter, that is to say, the last 
part of our age, it is evident that it usually brings 
forth nothing at all : or if it do chance to force itself 
beyond nature, the fruits it brings forth are yet worse, 
and more crude and imperfect, than those even of the 

Seeing therefore it is for the most part impossible to 
give any certain judgment of these things, either by 
the history of these authors, or by their books them- 
selves; and that again on the other side, without this, 
we ought not to depend upon anything we find in their 
writings, by supposing we have discovered what their 
opinions have been: we may safely conclude in this 
matter also, as we have done in the former chapter, 
that it is very difficult to know truly and precisely 
what the opinions and sense of the ancients have 
been, as regards the differences at this day existing 
among Christians. 



Reason VIII. — It is necessary, but nevertheless difficult, to discover 
how the Fathers have held all their several opinions ; whether as 
necessary or as probable only; and in what degree of necessity or 

Logic teaches us that true propositions are not all 
equally so: some of them being contingent only, as 
the schools speak, and others being necessary: and 
again, both being more or less either contingent or 
necessary, according to that admirable division which 
the philosopher has made into those three degrees of 
necessity, explained by him in the first book of his 

Demonstrations : — Ko,to, 7iavroq, xaO* avjo, xaQohov rfpcoTOf.* 

Hence it comes to pass, that the knowledge or igno- 
rance of these degrees is the more or less important 
in those sciences whereunto they appertain; there 
being some of them, as those which they call princi- 
ples, that are so necessary, that a man cannot be igno- 
rant of them, without overthrowing the whole science 
wherein they ought to have place: and there being 
others again, on the contrary side, that a man may be 
ignorant of, so far as to hold their contradictories for 
true, and yet nevertheless not run any great hazard. As 
for example, these following are philosophical princi- 
ples of the first sort: namely, " That there is motion :" 
and " that everybody occupies some certain place," 
and the like. For what strange philosophy would it 
be, that should either be ignorant of or should deny 
these principles? But these following are of the 
second sort: namely, "That there are precisely but 
five senses in living creatures:" and "That the hea- 
vens are not of an elementary substance," and the 

Although these propositions are by most held to be 
true, yet notwithstanding are they not so necessary, 
but that a man may pass for a philosopher, and yet 

* Arist. Poster. Analyt. 


not only be ignorant of those positions, but may also, 
if he please, maintain even those things that are con- 
tradictory to them. Now if there be any science 
where this consideration ought carefully to be applied, 
it is, in my judgment, in that of divinity. For there 
is a very great difference between the truths of which 
it consists: some of them being evidently more neces- 
sary than others, as Origen proves plainly in his 
twenty-seventh Homily upon Matthew. Only com- 
pare these two propositions together: "Christ is God ;" 
and " Christ suffered death, being of the age of thirty- 
four, or thirty-five years. " Who sees not that though 
both these propositions are true, yet notwithstanding 
there is a vast difference between them. For the 
former of these is necessarily true; that is to say, it is 
impossible but that Christ should be God; the salva- 
tion of mankind, which is the end of our religion, 
being otherwise not possible to be obtained. But as 
to the second, notwithstanding that it is true, and is 
collected clearly enough out of the Scriptures, yet is 
it not at all necessary. For Christ might, if he had 
so pleased, have suffered at the fortieth or fiftieth year 
of his age, without any prejudice at all to our salva- 
tion, which was the end of his suffering. 

According to this diversity of degrees, the belief or 
ignorance of these two propositions are also of very 
different importance. The first of them we may not 
be ignorant of, and much less deny, without renoun- 
cing Christianity. The second we may be ignorant 
of, and even deny too, as supposing it false, yet with- 
out any great danger. To be able therefore to come 
to a clear and perfect understanding what was the 
sense of the Fathers, touching the points of religion 
at this day controverted amongst us, it is necessary 
that we should know not only whether they believed 
them or not, but also how they believed or did not 
believe them: that is to say, whether they held them 
as propositions necessarily or probably either true or 
false; and, moreover, in what degree either of neces- 
sity or probability they placed them. 

That this inquiry is very necessary, cardinal Perron 


has clearly demonstrated, in that learned epistle of his, 
written to Casaubon, against king James. The king 
attributing to himself the name of Catholic, under pre- 
tence that he believed, and held all those things that 
the Fathers of the first four or five centuries did; the 
cardinal denies his inference; replying, among other 
things, that to be of the communion of the ancients, a 
man ought not only to believe what they believed, 
but also to believe it in the same manner and in the 
same degree that they did: that is, to believe as neces- 
sary to salvation whatever they believed as necessary 
thereto ; and to believe as profitable to salvation what 
they held for such : and as lawful and not repugnant 
to salvation, what they held as lawful and not repug- 
nant to salvation. Thus he goes on, and gives us a 
long and exact division of the different degrees of 
necessity, which may and ought to be considered in 
all propositions on religion. 

I could sincerely wish that the occasion had carried 
on this learned prelate so far as to have made an 
exact application of this doctrine, and to have truly 
informed us (of what the greatest part of the world is 
at this day ignorant) in what degree each point of the 
Christian faith is held, either by the Church of Rome, 
or by the ancient Fathers; and what things are abso- 
lutely necessary in religion, and what are those other 
things that are necessary under some certain conditions 
only : which again are necessary by the necessity of 
the means; and which, by the necessity of the pre- 
cept, (as he there speaks;) that is to say, which are 
those things that we ought to observe, either by rea- 
son of their profit, as being means which are profita- 
ble to salvation; and which we are to observe, by 
reason of the commandment only, being enjoined us 
by such an authority as we owe obedience to: and 
moreover, after these points, which all and every of the 
faithful are bound to believe expressly; and which 
are those that it is sufficient to believe in gross only, 
and by an implicit faith: and lastly, which are those 
things that we ought actually to do ; and which are 
those that it is sufficient if we approve of them only, 


though we do them not ? So that it appears clear, 
out of these words of his, that to be able to know 
what the doctrines of the Fathers have been, espe- 
cially in the points now in dispute, we ought first to 
be assured in what degree they believed the same. 
That this distinction was of very great consideration 
with the ancient church, appears sufficiently from the 
special regard which it always had to it; opening or 
shutting the door against men, first of all, according to 
the things which they believed or did not believe; 
secondly, according to the different manner they be- 
lieved or did not believe them. For it excommuni- 
cated those who rejected the things that it held as 
necessary; and so likewise those who pressed as 
things necessary such as it held for things probable 
only. But it received, with all the suavity imagina- 
ble, all those who either were ignorant of, or doubted, 
or indeed denied, those things which it accounted 
true, yet not necessarily so. This appears clearly from 
an epistle written by Irenseus to Victor bishop of 
Rome, cited by Eusebius, in his Ecclesiastical His- 
tory:* where this holy man testifies, that although 
there had been, before Victor's time, the same differ- 
ence between the Asiatic and the Romish Church, 
touching the celebration of Easter; yet notwithstand- 
ing they lived in peace and mutual amity together ; 
neither were any of the Asiatic bishops ever excotti- 
municated at Rome, for their dissenting from them, 
either in this or in any other point; but rather the 
contrary; for on Polycarpus coming to Rome, in the 
time of Pope Anicetus, after they had a conference 
on the differences between them, and each of them 
continued still firm in his former opinion; they still 
did not forbear holding fair correspondence with each 
other, and to communicate together; Anicetus also, 
out of the respect he bore to Polycarpus, allowing 
him the use of his own church, to celebrate the Eu- 
charist in. 

Tertullian, in his book " De Praescriptionibus ad- 
versus Haereticos," requires only that the rule of faith, 

* Hist. Eccles. Euseb. lib. 5, cap. 24, Codicis Graeci, cap. 26. 


(as he calls it) should continue in its proper form and 
order; allowing every man, in all other particulars, 
to make what inquiries and discourses he pleased, 
and to exercise his curiosity to the utmost liberty ;* 
which is an evident argument, that he admitted into 
his communion all those who, not contradicting the 
rule of faith, broached any other opinions ; that is, if 
they held them as probable only, and proposed not 
anything which was contrary to the rule of faith. 

The author of the Apology of Origen,t published 
by Ruffinus, under the name of Pamphilus, was of 
the same opinion. For having confessed that Origen, 
if he held not, yet published certain very strange 
opinions on the state of the soul before the birth of 
man, and on the nature of the stars, he maintains that 
these opinions do not presently make a man a here- 
tic ; and that even among the doctors of the Church 
there was diversity of opinion on the same. 

Besides all this, it is evident that this difference of 
judgment is even at this day to be found in the Church 
of Rome ; where you shall find the Dominicans and the 
Franciscans maintaining opinions entirely contradic- 
tory to each other, on the conception of the Virgin 
Mary ; the one maintaining that she was conceived 
without sin, whereas the other utterly deny it. And 
that which makes me wonder the more is, that they 
suffer such contradictory opinions as these to be held 
amongst them, in such particulars as, considered bare- 
ly in themselves, seem yet to be of very great im- 
portance. As for example, a man may either believe 
that we ought to yield to the cross the adoration of 
Latvia; or, if he please, he may believe the contrary; 
without losing, either by reason of the one or the 
other, the communion of the Church and salvation. 
Yet notwithstanding, if you but consider the thing in 
itself, it will appear to be a matter of no such indif- 
ference as people imagine. For if the former of these 

* Caeterum manente forma ejus in suo ordine, quantumlibet quae- 
ras, et tractes, et omnem libidinem curiositatis effundas, &c. Tertul. 
de Prescript, advers. Hceret. Vid. I. de Virg. vel. L 1. 

t Apol. Orig. inter opera Origen. 


opinions be indeed true, then must those that are of 
the other opinion sin very grievously, in not worship- 
ping an object that is so worthy of adoration. But 
if it be false, then are those men that maintain the 
same, guilty of a much greater sin, by committing 
such horrible idolatry. 

What point is there in religion, that seems to be of 
greater importance than that concerning the founda- 
tion and head of all ecclesiastical power, upon the 
authority of which the whole faith and state of the 
Church depends? And yet on this particular also, 
which is of such great consequence, do they suffer 
men to maintain contradictory opinions ; some attri- 
buting this dignity to the Pope, and others to a gene- 
ral council. 

If the opinion of the first of these be true, then is 
the faith of the latter built upon a very erroneous 
ground:* but if the opinion of the latter be true, then 
does the faith of the former depend upon a cause 
which is not infallible ; and consequently is null. Now 
these different opinions are reconciled, by saying that 
the Church accounting neither of these doctrines as 
necessary to faith, a man is not at once a heretic for 
holding the false opinion of the two, nor yet is he to 
be accounted orthodox, merely for holding the true 

Seeing therefore that this particular concerns the 
communion of the Church, and our salvation also, 
which depends thereon, it will behove us to know 
certainly in what degree the ancients placed those 
articles which are at this day so eagerly pressed upon 
the Protestants; and whether they held them in the 
same, or in a higher, or else in a lower degree of ne- 
cessity than they are now maintained by the Church 
of Rome. For unless this be made very clear, the 
Protestants, though they should confess (which yet 
they do not) that the Fathers did indeed really believe 
the same, might yet allege for themselves, that, not- 
withstanding all this, they are not bound to believe 
the same ; inasmuch as all opinions in religion are not 

* Perron. Repl. 1. 4, in Praefat. 


at once obligatory, and such as all men are bound to 
believe; seeing that there are some that are in- 
deed necessary, but some others that are not so. They 
will answer likewise, that these opinions are similar 
to those at this day controverted between the Domi- 
nicans and the Franciscans ; or to those other points 
debated between the Sorbonists and the Regulars; 
wherein every one is permitted to hold what opinions 
he pleases. They will urge for themselves the deter- 
mination of the council of Trent;* which in express 
terms distinguishes between the opinions of the 
Fathers: where having thundered out an anathema 
against all those that should maintain that the admin- 
istering of the Eucharist was necessary for little 
infants, they further declare that this thunderbolt ex- 
tended not to those ancient Fathers who gave the 
communion to infants; inasmuch as they maintained 
and practised this from being moved thereunto upon 
probable reasons only, and not accounting it necessary 
to salvation. 

Seeing therefore that some errors which have been 
condemned by councils, may be maintained in such a 
certain degree, without incurring thereby the danger 
of their thunderbolts ; for the same reason a man may 
be ignorant of, and even deny some truths also, with- 
out running the hazard of being anathematized. Who 
can assure us (the Protestants may further add) that 
the articles which we reject are not of this kind, and 
such as, though perhaps they may be true, it is never- 
theless lawful for us to disbelieve ? My opinion there- 
fore is, that there is no man now that sees not that it 
concerns the doctors of the Romish Church, if they 
mean to convince their adversaries out of the Fathers, 
first to make it appear to them that the ancients held 
the said points, not only as true but as necessary also, 
and in the very same degree of necessity that they 
now hold them. Now this must prove a matter of 
extreme difficulty, and much greater here than in any 
of the other points before proposed. And I shall 
adduce no other argument for the proof of this than 
* Cone. Trident. Sess. 21, cap. 5. extr. et Can. 4. 


that very decree we cited before, where the council 
of Trent has declared that the Fathers did not admin- 
ister the Communion to infants, " out of any opinion 
that it was necessary to salvation, but did it upon 
some other probable reasons only."* For we have 
not only very good reason to doubt, whether the 
Fathers held this opinion and followed this practice 
as probable only; but it seems besides (with all rever- 
ence to that council be it spoken) to appear evidently 
enough out of their writings, that they did hold it as 

Only hear the Fathers themselves, and Augustine 
in the first place, who says, " That the Churches of 
Christ hold by an ancient, and as I conceive an apos- 
tolical tradition, that without Baptism and the Com- 
munion of the Lord's Table, no man can come either 
into the kingdom of God, or unto salvation or eternal 
life."t Afterwards having, as he conceives, proved 
this out of the Scriptures, he adds further: "Seeing 
therefore that no man can hope either for eternal life 
or salvation without Baptism and the body and blood 
of Christ," (thus does he call the Sacrament of the 
Eucharist, according to the language of his time;) 
"as has been proved by so many divine testimonies; 
in vain is it promised to infants without the partici- 
pating of these.":): Three chapters before, treating of 
those words of our Saviour in John, " Except you eat 
my flesh, and drink my blood, you can have no life 
in you," (which words Augustine understands, both 
there and elsewhere, of the Communion of the Eucha- 
rist,) he makes a long discourse to prove that they 

* Ut enim sanctissimi ill! Patres sui facti probabilem causam pro 
illius temporis ratione habuerunt ; ita certe eos nulla salutis necessi- 
tate id fecisse, sine controversia tenendum est. — Condi, Trident. Sess, 
2i. c.4. 

t Ex antiqua, ut existimo, et apostolica traditione Ecclesiae Christi 
insitum tencnt, praeter Baptismum et participationem Dominicae men- 
see, non solum ad regnum Dei, sed nee ad salutem, et vitam seternam 
posse quenquam hominum pervenire. Hoc enim et Scriptura testa- 
tum &c. — Aug. I. 1, de Peccat. Mor. et Remiss, 

X Si ergo, ut tot et tanta divina testimonia concinunt, nee salus, 
nee vita aeterna sine Baptismo, et corpore et sanguine Domini cui- 
quam spectanda est ; frustra sine his promittitur parvulis. — Ibid. 


extend as well to infants as to people of maturer age. 
" Is there any man (says he) that dares affirm that 
this speech belongs not to infants also ; or that they 
may have life in them, without participating of this 
body, and of this blood ?"* And this is his constant 
manner of speaking, in eight or ten other passages in 
his works, which are too long to be here inserted.! 

Pope Innocent I., Augustine's contemporary, speaks 
also after the same manner; proving against the Pe- 
lagians that Baptism is necessary for infants, to render 
them capable of eternal life; inasmuch as without 
Baptism they cannot communicate of the Eucharist, 
which is necessary to salvation.J 

Cyprian also,§ long before them, spake to the very 
same sense : and this Maldonate affirms to have been 
the opinion of the first six centuries. || 

These things being considered, we must infer either 
that the council of Trent, by its declaration, has made 
that which has been, to be as if it had never been, 
which is a power that the poet Agatho in Aristotle 
would not allow to God himself :! or else that the 
Fathers of this council, either out of forgetfulness or 
otherwise, mistook themselves in this account of theirs 
respecting the opinion of the ancient Church in this 
particular: which in my judgment is the more favour- 

* An verd quisquam etiam hoc dicere audebit, quod ad parvulos 
haec sententia non pertineat; possintque sine participatione corporis 
hujus et sanguinis in se habere vitam, &c. — Id. ibid. c. 20. 

t Id. t. 2, ep. 106, ep. 107, ep. poster, ib. Mar. 1. 2, contr. Pel. et 
Celest c. 18, 1. 1, contr. 2. ep. Pelag. ad Bon. cap. 22, et 1. 4, c. 4, 1. 1, 
contr. Jul. et 1. 3, c. 1, et c. 12, lib. de Prsedest. Sanct. ad Prosp. c. 
13, Hypomn. 1. 5 et 6, Tract. 120, in Job. Serin. 32, de verb. Ap. 

t Illud verd quod eos vestra fraternitas asserit praedicare, parvulos 
seternae vitae praemiis, etiam sine baptismatis gratia posse donari, 
perfatuum est. Nisi enim manducaverint carnem filii hominis, et 
biberint sanguinem ejus, non habebunt vitam aeternam in semetipsis. 
(Jnnoc. in ep. ad. Milevit. Synod, qua est inter ep. Aug. 15.) — Vid. 
Aug. 1. 2, contr. 2 ap. Pelag. c. 5, et lib. 1, contr. Jul. c. 2. 

§ Cyprian, lib. 3, Test, ad Qui. c. 25. 

|| Missam facio Augustini et Innocent.ii I. sententiam, quse sexcen- 
tos circiter annos viguit in Ecclesia, Eucharistiam etiam infantibus 
necessariam. — Maldon. in Joan. c. 6. num. 116. 

^ M.0V0U yxp OLVT0V Kit QlOS O-TiplO-KiTSU, AyWHTZ TTOlilV CLCT^ CtV Yl 7TS-. 

7rpzyjuivz. — Agatho apud Aristot. Eth. ad Nicom, 1. 7. c.2. 


able and the more probable conceit of the two : and 
if so, I shall then desire no more. For if these great 
personages, who were chosen with so much care and 
circumspection, out of all parts of Christendom, and 
sent to Trent, to deliberate upon and determine a mat- 
ter of the greatest importance in the world; and were 
directed by the legates of such supereminent wisdom, 
and digested their decrees with a judgment so mature 
and deliberate, that there is scarcely one word in them 
without its design — if after all this, I say, these men 
should be found to have erred in this inquiry, in af- 
firming that the Fathers held only as probable that 
which they evidently appear to have held as necessa- 
ry, if Pope Pius IV., with his whole consistory, con- 
sisting of so many eminent and wise men, has ap- 
proved and confirmed this mistake of theirs, not per- 
ceiving it at all — what can we, or indeed what ought 
we, to expect from any other hands, whose soever 
they be, as regards the points now controverted be- 
tween us; in comparison with which, a man may 
very well say, that all the difficulty which this matter 
now presents is nothing at all; wherein, notwithstand- 
ing, this whole council mistook itself? Where shall 
we find a man, that after this failing of theirs, can 
have the courage to adventure upon so difficult and 
so intricate an undertaking ? Who can promise him- 
self success there, where so great a council has failed ? 
The very hope of effecting so weighty a matter can 
hardly be excused from the guilt of high presumption. 
For, first of all, the Fathers tell us very seldom in 
what degree, either of necessity or probability, they 
held their opinions: and even when they do tell us, 
their expressions being such as we have observed of 
them, we ought not at once to conclude anything from 
them, without first examining them thoroughly. For 
many times, when they would recommend to us such 
things as they accounted profitable for us, they would 
speak of them as if they had been necessary : and so 
again, to take off our belief of and to divert our affec- 
tions from such things as they conceived either to be 
simply false, or otherwise unprofitable for us, they 


represented them as the most detestable and perni- 
cious things. " Whosoever (said Ignatius) fasts upon 
the Lord's day, or upon any Saturday, except that 
one Saturday (meaning Easter-eve,) he is a murderer 

01 Christ:" — El -ti$ Kvpiaxqv, *} Gafifiatov vrjctsvsc, rt%riv 

Who would not think, hearing these tragical expres- 
sions of his, that certainly he was speaking of the 
very foundation of the whole Christian religion? And 
yet the business he there speaks of was only the ob- 
servation of a certain part of a positive law, and 
which yet (as most are of opinion) was at that time 
received but by a part only of the Church ; the belief 
and observation whereof was so far from being class- 
ed among those things that were necessary, that it 
was scarcely placed in the first degree of probability ; 
and is now at length utterly abolished. 

This manner of discoursing is very frequently used 
by Tertullian, Ambrose, and especially by Jerome; 
who are all so enthusiastic for the side they espouse, 
that you would think, in reading them, that all those 
whom they commend were really angels; and all 
those whom they speak against were arrant devils; 
that whatsoever they maintain, is the very founda- 
tion and ground-work of the Christian religion; and 
whatsoever they refute is mere atheism, and the high- 
est impiety. 

Certainly Jerome, writing to a certain Roman 
matron, named Furia, who was a widow, and dis- 
suading her from marrying again,t discourses of this 
matter in the very same manner as he would have 
done in dissuading her from the committing of murder. 

Here we are to call to mind again the various rea- 
sons for the obscurity of the Fathers, and particularly 
that of their rhetoric, all which have place in this 
particular rather than in any other. So that there 
seems to be but one only certain way left us to dis- 
cover in what degree they placed the propositions of 
Christian doctrine; namely, their creeds and exposi- 

* Ignat. ep. 4, ad Phil. f Hieron. ep. 10, ad Furiam, torn. 1. 


tions of their faith, whether they were general, or 
particular ones ; and the determinations of their coun- 
cils and ecclesiastical assemblies. For we may very 
well believe that they held as necessary all such points 
as they made profession of; anathematizing all such 
as should deny the same. By this rule we may in- 
deed assure ourselves that they held as necessary the 
greatest part of all those points wherein we at this 
day agree among ourselves. Some of these we have 
already noticed in our preface : for they are most of 
them either delivered expressly in their creeds, or else 
positively determined in their councils ; and the deniers 
of them are there expressly condemned. But yet 
this rule will scarcely be of any use in the decision of 
our present controversies. For some of them appear 
not at all, either in that Rule of Faith so often men- 
tioned by Tertullian, or in the Nicene creed, or in that 
of Constantinople, or in the determinations of the 
council of Ephesus, or in those of Chalcedon. The 
first of these councils anathematized Arius; the se- 
cond Macedonius; the third Nestorius; and the fourth 
Eutyches: and yet nevertheless are the several tenets 
of these very men at this day received, and main- 
tained by one side or other. Nay, what is more, the 
aforesaid articles do not appear at all in the two fol- 
lowing councils; namely, the second council of Con- 
stantinople, which condemned certain writings of 
Theodorus, Theodoretus, and Ibas, as we have no- 
ticed before : nor yet in the third council of Constan- 
tinople, which anathematized the Monothelites, and 
was held about the year of our Lord 681. Yet have 
these first six councils (if you believe the Fathers of 
the seventh) " established and confirmed all those 
things which had been taught in the Roman Catholic 
Church from the primitive times, whether by writing 
or by unwritten tradition."* It will hence follow, 
that these points, which appear not here in the said 

* Tlctvrct rat TrapctfoQwrsL \v th kolBcXikh ImtXiiTiz, x.2.1 \yyp*qoos y xxi 
ayp'JHpct);, \n <?w ap^nQev %povM, <*.utcli (Sex Synodi Oecumenicce) k<xi 
tfa&rtiav-av, K'xi io-rnpi^av.— Synod. 7. Act. 6. Refut. Synod. Iconocl. 


first six councils at all, were not taught from the be- 
ginning, either in writing or otherwise. 

About the eighth century however, and for a good 
while afterwards, we find mention of one of those 
points now controverted among us, namely, that re- 
lating to images ; which was diversely and contrarily 
determined in the councils of Constantinople, of 
Nicaea, and of Frankfort; the second of these coun- 
cils enjoining the use and adoration of images; 
whereas the first had utterly forbidden it: and the 
last of these councils taking off, and correcting, as it 
were, the excesses of the other two. What can you 
say to this, that even in the writings of particular 
men, which yet are usually more copious than the 
determinations of councils are, there is no mention 
made of the said points? 

Epiphanius,* in the conclusion of his Treatise on 
Heresies, gives us two discourses ; in the one of which 
he notes down the order, customs, and discipline of 
the Church in his time : wherein I must say, that there 
are many things which much differ from the customs 
that are at this day observed by us on both sides. In 
the other is contained an exposition of the faith of 
the Church set down at large, which he calls " The 
pillar of the truth, the hope and assurance of immor- 
tality:" — Tovto to fpsctyta 4vi$ dfajdc tot$, *] s%7ti$ xai fy )3sj3- 

Yet of all those controversies which are at this day 
disputed amongst us, you will there meet with one 
only; and that is the local descent of our Saviour 
Christ into hell : which yet is an article of very small 
importance, as every one knows. In the acts of the 
sixth council we have a synodical epistle of Sophro- 
nius, patriarch of Jerusalem; J wherein, as the usual 
custom was, he explains the faith, in a very ample and 
particular manner: and yet, notwithstanding, you will 
not there meet with any of those points which are 
now controverted amongst us. 

* Panar. 1. 3, et in Anacephal. 
t Epiphan. in Panar. 1. 3, et in Anacephal. 
t Concil. vi. Act. 2. 


Those that search more closely into the business, 
will be apt positively to conclude from this their 
silence, that these points were not at that time any 
part of the doctrine of the Church : and certainly this 
kind of argument seems not to want reason. But as 
regards myself, it is sufficient that the truth of my 
assertion is confirmed; that it is, if not impossible, at 
least a very difficult thing to discover in what degree, 
either of necessity or probability ', the ancient Fathers 
held each of those points, which are now disputed 
amongst us; seeing that they appear not at all, either 
in the expositions of their faith, or in the determina- 
tions of their councils, which are, as it were, the 
catalogues of those points of doctrine, which they 
accounted necessary. 


Reason IX. — We ought to know what have been the opinions, not of 
one or more of the Fathers, but of the whole ancient Church : 
which is a very difficult matter to discover. 

Those who make the most account of the writings of 
the Fathers, and who urge them the oftenest in their 
disputations, inform us, that the value of their senti- 
ments in these matters arises from the fact, that they 
are so many testimonies of the general sense and 
judgment of the Church; to which alone these men 
attribute the supreme power of judging in controver- 
sies of religion. For if we should consider them 
severally, each by himself, and as they stand by their 
own strength only, they confess that they may chance 
to err; so that it will hence follow, that in order to 
make use of the testimonies of the Fathers, it is not 
sufficient for us to know whether such or such senti- 
ments be truly theirs, and if so, what the meaning of 
them is; but we ought further also to be very well 
assured that they are conformable to the belief of the 


Church in their time : in the same manner as in a 
court of judicature, the opinion of any single person 
on the bench is of no weight at all, as to the passing 
of judgment, unless it be conformable to the opinion 
of all the rest, or at least of the major part of those 

Now observe how we are fallen again into new 
difficulties. Whence and by what means can we 
learn whether the whole Church, in the time of Justin 
Martyr, or of Augustine, or of Jerome, maintained the 
same opinions in every particular that these men 
severally did, or not? I confess that the charity of 
these men was very great; and that they very heartily 
and constantly embraced the body and substance of 
the belief of the Church, in all particulars, that they 
saw apparently to be such. But where the Church 
did not at all express itself, and clearly declare what 
its sense was, they could not possibly, however great 
their desire of so doing, follow its authority as the 
rule of their opinions. Wheresoever therefore they 
treat of points which were long since decided, be- 
lieved, and received, expressly and positively, by the 
whole Christian Church, either of their own age, or 
of any of the preceding ages, it is very probable that 
they conformed to what was believed by the Church: 
so that, in these cases, their sentiments may very well 
pass for a testimony of the judgment and sense of the 
Church : it being very improbable, that they could be 
either ignorant what was the public doctrine of the 
Church; or that knowing the same, they would not 
follow it. As for example, when Athanasius, Am- 
brose, Jerome, Augustine, and others, discourse on the 
Son of God, they speak nothing but what is conform- 
able to the belief of the Church in general, because 
the belief of the Church had then been clearly and 
expressly delivered upon this point ; so that whatso- 
ever they say, as to this particular, may safely be 
received as a testimony of the Church's belief. The 
same may be done in all the other points which have 
either been positively determined in any of the gene- 
ral councils, or delivered in any of the creeds, or that 


any other way appear to have been the public belief 
of the Church. 

If the Fathers had but contained themselves within 
these bounds, and had not taken the liberty to treat 
of any thing, save what the Church had clearly de- 
livered its judgment upon, this rule might then have 
been received as a general one ; and, whatever opin- 
ion we found in them, we might safely have conclu- 
ded it to have been the sense of the Church as exist- 
ing in their time. But the curiosity of man's nature, 
together with the impudence of the heretics, and the 
tenderness of conscience, whether of their own, or of 
others, and divers other reasons perhaps, having 
partly made them willingly, and partly forced, and as 
it were constrained them to go on further, and to 
proceed to the search of the truth of several points, 
which had not as yet been established by the univer- 
sal and public consent of all Christians; it could not 
be avoided, but that necessarily they must in these 
inquiries make use of their own proper light, and 
must deliver upon the same their own private opin- 
ions, which the Church, that came after them, has 
since either embraced or rejected. 

I shall not here stand to prove my opinion, since it 
is a thing that is confessed on all hands, and whereof 
the Romanists make special use upon all occasions, 
in answering several objections brought against them 
out of the Fathers. As, for example, where cardinal 
Bellarmine excuses the error of Pope John XXII. on 
the state of departed souls before the Resurrection;* 
by saying, that the Church, in his time, had not as yet 
determined any thing as to this particular. So like- 
wise, where he applies the same salvo to that (in his 
judgment) unsound opinion of Pope Nicolas L, who 
maintained that Baptism, administered in the name of 
Jesus Christ only, without expressing the other per- 
sons of the Holy Trinity, was, notwithstanding, valid 
and effectual.! "This is a point (says Bellarmine,) on 

* Bellarm. de Rom. Pont. 1. 4, c. 14. Sect. Respondeo in pri- 
mis, &c. 

t Non invenitur ulla certa definitio Ecclesise de hac re. — Id. ibid. 
Sect. ult. ex his. 


which we find not the Church to have determined 
any thing." And, however dangerous and almost 
heretical the opinion of those men seems to him, who 
hold that the Pope of Rome may fall into heresy ; yet 
does he permit Pope Adrian to hold the same, not 
daring to rank him among the heretics, because the 
Church had not as yet clearly and definitively ex- 
pressed itself on this point. 

The same Bellarmine, in another controversy of 
great importance, regarding the Canonical Books of 
the Old Testament, (finding himself closely put to it, 
by his adversary's urging against him the authority 
of Jerome, who casts Tobit, the Book of Wisdom, 
Ecclesiasticus, and the Maccabees, out of the Canon, 
contrary to the judgment of the Church of Rome, 
which receives them now,) gets over this objection 
after the same manner. " I confess (says he) that 
Jerome held this opinion, because no general council 
had as yet ordained anything regarding these books." 

Seeing therefore that it is most clear, both from the 
confession of our adversaries, and from the considera- 
tion of the thing itself, that the Fathers have in their 
writings circulated many of their own particular 
opinions, digested out of their own private medita- 
tions, and which they had not learnt in the school of 
the Church — who sees not, that before we give any 
certain credit to their sentiments, we ought first to be 
assured of what nature they are ? Whether they 
were their own particular opinions only, or the public 
sense of their age : since it is confessed by all, that 
those of the former kind are not always necessarily 
obligatory, but are such as oftentimes may, and some- 
times ought to be rejected, without any scruple at all. 

You may urge perhaps to a Protestant, that Jerome 
worshipped the relics of departed saints. How shall 
I know, (will he reply upon you again) whether this 
was his private opinion only, or not? If the authority 
of this Father, for want of being grounded upon some 
public declaration of the Church, could not bind Bel- 
larmine to receive his opinion on the Canon of the 
Old Testament, why should this opinion of his, which 


is not any whit better grounded than the other, per- 
suade me to the worship of relics? The same reply 
will he make, and many times with much more ap- 
pearance of reason, concerning divers other testimonies 
produced out of the Fathers. So that, whether you 
would confirm your own faith, or whether you would 
wrest out of your adversary's hand this manner of 
reply, and make good all such allegations, it will be- 
hove you to make it clear, concerning any passage 
whatever that you shall urge out of a Father, that it 
is not his own private opinion, but was that of the 
Church itself wherein he lived: which, in my judg- 
ment, is a thing that is more difficult to be demon- 
strated, than any of those matters we have yet 
discoursed upon. For those means by which we 
might easily attain to this knowledge are wanting, 
and those which we have left us, are very feeble, and 
very inconclusive. 

If the Fathers themselves had but taken so much 
pains, as to have. distinguished betwixt these two sorts 
of opinions, informing us, in every particular case, 
which were their own private ones only, and which 
were taught by the whole Church; or, at least, had 
but proposed some of them as doubtful, and others 
again as assured truths, in the same manner as Origen 
has sometimes done, they would indeed have aided 
us very much; though, to say the truth, they would 
not have wholly cured us of our grief: forasmuch as 
sometimes (as we shall hereafter make it appear,*) 
they attribute to the Church those things which it is 
most evident it never held. Yet they very seldom 
make any such distinction, but commonly express 
their own private opinions in the same manner as 
they do those publicly received ; and sometimes also, 
by reason of the partial feelings to which these 
authors might chance naturally to have been subject, 
we have them recommending to us with much more 
eagerness that which they have conceived, and brought 
forth themselves, than that which they have received 

* Infra, 1. II. c. 1. 


from any other hand; so that we shall meet with very- 
little in them that may afford us any light in this 

There would be left us yet another aid in this busi- 
ness, by comparing that which they say here and there 
throughout their writings, with the public opinions of 
the Church, which would be rather a safe and certain 
rule to go by, had we any where else, besides their 
books, any clear and certain evidence what the belief 
of the Church has been, in each distinct age, on all 
points of religion: and if this were so, we should not 
then need to trouble ourselves with studying the wri- 
tings of the Fathers, seeing that we read them for no 
other purpose, but only to discover out of them what 
the doctrine of Christendom has been on those points 
which are at this day controverted among us. Yet 
there is no man but knows that this aid is wanting to 
us. For, setting aside the creeds, and the determi- 
nations of the first six General Councils, and of some 
few of the Provincial, you will not meet with any 
work of this nature throughout the whole stock of 

Now (as we have already made it appear in the 
preceding chapter,) the ancient Church has not any 
where declared, either in its creeds or in the aforesaid 
councils, what the opinion and sense of it has been, 
on the greatest part of those points which are now in 
dispute amongst us; it followeth therefore, that by 
this means we shall never be able to distinguish, in 
the writings of the Fathers, which were their own pri- 
vate opinions, and which they held in common with 
the rest of the Church. 

If we could indeed learn, from any creditable author, 
that the present controversies had ever been decided 
by the ancient Church, we should then readily believe 
that the Fathers would have followed this their deci- 
sion: and then, although the Constitutions themselves 
would not perhaps have come down to our hands, yet 
notwithstanding should we be in some sort obliged 
to believe, that the Fathers, who had both seen and 
assented to the same, would also have delivered over 


the sense of them unto us in their writings. But we 
meet with no such thing in any author: for it rather 
appears evidently to the contrary, through the whole 
course of Ecclesiastical history, that these matters 
were never so much as started in the first ages of 
Christianity ; so far are they from having been then 
decided. So that it manifestly appears from hence, 
that if the Fathers of those primitive times have by 
chance said any thing of them, they took not what 
they said from the determinations of the Church, 
which had not as yet declared itself on the same, but 
expressed rather their own private thoughts and opin- 

Neither will it be to any purpose to object here, 
that the testimonies of many Fathers together do 
represent to us the sense of the Church, although the 
voice of one or two single persons only is not suffi- 
cient to do the same. For, not to answer that what 
has happened to one may have happened to many 
others, and that, if some particular persons chance to 
have fallen into some particular opinions, possibly 
others may either have accompanied or else have fol- 
lowed them in the same — I say further, that this objec- 
tion is of no force at all in this particular. For, see- 
ing that the Church had not as yet declared its opin- 
ion publicly on the points at this day controverted, it 
is as impossible that many together, that lived in the 
same time, should represent it to us, as that one single 
person should. How could they possibly have seen 
that which lay as yet concealed? How could they 
possibly measure their belief by such a rule, as was 
not yet visible to the world? 

The Chiliasts adduce the testimonies, not of one, or 
of two, but of a very great number of the most emi- 
nent and the most ancient among the Fathers, who 
were all of their opinion, as we shall see hereafter.* 
The answer that is ordinarily made to this objection, 
is, that the Church having not as yet declared its sense 
on this point, the testimonies of these men bind us 
not to believe the same ; which is an evident argu- 
* Book II. ch. iv. 


ment, that a great number, in this case, signifies no 
more than a small one, in representing to us what the 
belief of the Church has been; and that it is necessary, 
that either by some General Council, or else by some 
other public way, it must have declared its judgment 
on any question in dispute; in order that we may 
know whether the Fathers have been of the same 
opinion or not. So that, according to this account, 
we are to raise up again the whole ancient Church, 
and to call it to account on every one of these par- 
ticular points now discussed, on which the testimo- 
nies of the Fathers are adduced; it being impossible 
otherwise to give any certain judgment, whether what 
they say, is their own private opinion, or that of the 
public; that is to say, whether it be fit to be believed 
or not. 

Thus any man, even of the meanest judgment, may 
easily perceive that it is not only difficult, but almost 
impossible, to draw from the writings of the Fathers 
such information as is necessary for our satisfaction 
in matters of so great importance. 


Reason X. — It is very difficult to ascertain whether the opinions of the 
Fathers, as to the controversies of the present day, were received by 
the Church universal, or only by some portion of it : this being neces- 
sary to be known, before their sentiments can be adopted. 

Suppose that one of the Fathers, relieving us in this 
difficult or rather impossible business, should tell us, 
in express terms, that what he proposes is the sense 
and opinion of the Church in his time ; yet this would 
not quite extricate us from the doubtful condition we 
are in. For, besides that their words are many times, 
in such cases as these, liable to exception, suppose 
that it were certainly and undoubtedly so ; yet it would 
concern us then to examine what that Church was, of 


which he speaks; whether it was the Church Univer- 
sal, or only some particular Church ; and whether it 
was that of the whole world, or that of some city, 
province, or country only. 

Now that this is a matter of no small importance is 
evident, because the opinions of the Church Universal 
in points of faith are accounted infallible, and neces- 
sarily true; whereas those of particular Churches are 
not so, but are confessed to be subject to error. So 
that the question being here about the faith, which 
ought not to be grounded upon any thing save what 
is infallibly true, it will concern us to know what the 
judgment of the Church Universal has been; seeing 
the opinion of no particular Church can do us any 
service in this case. And that this distinction is also 
otherwise very necessary, appears evident by this; 
because the opinions and customs which have been 
commonly received by the greatest part of Christen- 
dom, have not always immediately taken place in 
each particular Church ; and again, those which have 
been received in certain particular Churches have not 
been entertained by all the rest. Thus we find in 
history, that the churches in Asia Minor kept the feast 
of Easter upon a different day from all the other parts 
of Christendom : and although the matter itself seems 
to be of no very great importance, yet nevertheless it 
caused a great sensation in the Church; Victor bishop 
of Rome, by reason of this little difference, excommu- 
nicating all Asia Minor.* 

Now each party here alleged their reasons, and 
apostolical tradition also, for what they did ; speaking 
with such great confidence in the justification of their 
own opinion, that on hearing them individually a man 
would really believe that each of their opinions was 
the very sense of the whole Church; which notwith- 
standing was only the opinion of one portion of it. 

The greatest part of Christendom held the baptism 
of heretics to be good and effectual :t and received all 
those, who, forsaking their heresy, desired to be ad- 

* Euseb. Hist. Eccles. 1. 5, c. 23, 24, p. 55, Cod. Grsec. 
f Cypr. ep. 71, et ep. 75, quse est Firmil. 


mitted into the communion of the Church, without re- 
baptizing them; as appears out of Cyprian, who con- 
fesses that this had also been the custom formerly, 
even in the African Churches themselves. Yet not- 
withstanding Firmilianus, archbishop of Caesarea in 
Cappadocia, testifies that the Churches of Cappadocia 
had immemorially believed and practised the con- 
trary.* They had also, in his time, so declared and 
ordained, together with the Churches of Galatia and 
Cilicia, in a full synod, held at the city of Iconium. 
About the same time also Cyprian and the bishop of 
Africa entered on the same affair, and embraced this 
opinion of rebaptization of heretics. The acts of the 
council held at Carthage are yet extant; where you 
have eighty-seven bishops, who with one unanimous 
consent established the same. 

The custom at Rome, in Tertullian's time, was to 
receive into the communion of the Church all fornica- 
tors and adulterers, after some certain penances which 
they enjoined them. Tertullian, who was a Mon- 
tanist, exclaimed fearfully against this custom, and 
wrote a book expressly against it ; which is also ex 
tant among his works at this day. Who now, that 
should read this work of his, would not believe that 
it was the general opinion of all Catholics, that such 
sinners were not to be excluded from penance and 
the communion of the Church? Yet for all this, it is 
evident, out of a certain epistle of Cyprian,t that even 
some of the Catholic bishops of Africa were of the 
contrary persuasion : and the Jesuit Petavius is fur- 
ther of opinion, that this indulgence was not allowed 
nor practised in the Churches of Spain, till a long time 
after; and that the ancient rigour, which excluded 
for ever such offenders from the communion of the 
Church, was in practice among them, till the time of 
Pacianus, bishop of Barcelona, who left not any hopes 

* Cseterum nos veritati et consuetudinem jungimus : et consuetu- 
dini Romanorum consuetudinem veritatis opponimus ; ab initio hoe 
tenentes quod a Christo et ab Apostolis traditum est. — Firmil. ep. ad 
Cypr. qua est 15 inter ep. Cypr. 

T Cypr. ep. ad Anton. 



of ecclesiastical absolution, either to idolaters, mur- 
derers, or adulterers; as may be seen in his Exhorta- 
tion to Repentance.* 

In the year of our Lord 364, the council of Laodi- 
cea ordained,! that none but the canonical books 
of the Old and New Testament should be read in 
churches, giving us moreover a catalogue of the said 
books, which amount in all, in the Old Testament, to 
the number of twenty-two only ; without making any 
mention at all of those other books which cardinal 
Perron calls posthumous, namely, Ecclesiasticus, the 
Book of Wisdom, the Maccabees, Judith, and Tobit 
All the canons of this council were afterwards inserted 
in the code of the Church Universal, where you have 
this very canon also, Num. 163; that is as much as 
to say, they were received as rules of the Catholic 

Who would believe now, but that this declaration 
of the canon of the Scriptures was at that time received 
by all Christian Churches ? And yet, notwithstanding, 
you have the Churches of Africa meeting together in 
the Synod at Carthage, J about the year of our Lord 
397, and ordaining quite contrary to the former reso- 
lution of Laodicea, that among those books which 
were allowed to be read in churches, the Maccabees, 
Judith, Tobit, Ecclesiasticus, and the Book of Wis- 
dom, (which two last they also reckon among the 
books written by Solomon,) should be taken into the 

Who knows not the difference there was in the first 
ages of Christianity, between the Eastern and the 
Western Churches, respecting the fasting on Satur- 
days ;§ the Church of Rome maintaining it as lawful, 
and all the rest of the world accounting it unlawful? 
Whence it was that we had that bold canon passed in 
the council at Constantinople, in Trullo, in these 
words: " Understanding that in the city of Rome, in 
the time of the holy fast of Lent, they fast on Satur- 

* Pacian. Paraen. ad Poenit. t. 3. Bibl. PP. p. 71. 

t Concil. Laodic. can. 59. in Cod. Eccles. Univers. 163. 

X Concil. Carthag. iii. can. 47. § Vid. Petav. in Epiph. p. 359. 


days, contrary to the custom and tradition of the 
Church, it seems good to this holy council, that in the 
Roman Church they inviolably also observe that 
canon, which says, that whosoever shall be found to 
fast either upon the Lord's day, or upon the Saturday, 
(excepting only that one Saturday) if he be a clergy- 
man, he shall be deposed ; but if he be of the laity, he 
shall be excommunicated."* 

Who knows not in how many different ways the 
fast of Lent was anciently observed in various 
Churches, an account of which is given by Irenaeus, 
in that pious epistle of his which he wrote to Victor; 
part whereof Eusebius inserts in his Ecclesiastical 
History?! Who knows not also, that the opinions 
and expressions of the Greek Church, on Free-will 
and Predestination, are very different from what the 
Church believed and taught in Augustine's time, and 

As to the Discipline of the Church, only hear Anas- 
tasius Bibliothecarius, upon the sixth Canon of the 
Seventh General Council, which enjoins all Metropo- 
litans to hold provincial synods once a year: " Neither 
let it at all trouble thee (says he) that we have not 
this decree ; seeing that there are some others found 
among the canons, whose authority nevertheless we 
do not admit of. For some of them are in force, and 
are observed in the Greek Church only ; and others 
again only in certain other provinces. As for example, 
the sixteenth and seventeenth canons of the council 
of Laodicea are observed only among the Greeks; 
and the sixth and the eighth canons of the council of 
Africa are received by none but the Africans.":): 

* 'EflWw jue/ua.BM*{Aev \v r» Pa/uuttooV 7roxu \v ruts ayiuig <r»s <rea-(rctpzKo<r<rw 
YH< rciQ returns <tol$$*.<ti vii<rrzvuv<, 7raLpst rm 7rctpxJc6zi(rctv iKK\n<rtu<rriK3iy 
djtohouBizv, gcfc£g t» ay to. luvoSoc^ urn Kpocntv Ml, mi rn Pa/un-iav eKx.Kv<rict 
a7rxpi.<ra.xzuTa)S rov kxvcva rov xs^cvTat, E* nc K\»putos zbpuQeiH rn ayix. Kvpiuw 
yno-rzucov, v\ ro <ra.(Zfi>z.rov 1 ttmv rev hoc xtt juovou, ^xhxipnaBur ti eTe Xclmqc, 
d^opi^Bco. — Can. Synod. Quininsext. Can, Iv. 

T lren. ap. Euseb. Hist. Eccles. 1. 5. cap. 26. 

X Nee te moveat, si hanc definitionem minime nos habemus : cum 
etearum nonnullas, quas inter canones habemus, in auctoritatem non 
recipiamus ; sicut quasdam ex concilis. Alias namque apud Graecos 


I could here produce various other examples ; but 
these may suffice to show that the opinions and cus- 
toms which have been received in one part of the 
Church, have not always been entertained in all the 
rest. Whence it evidently follows that all that is 
acknowledged as the opinion or observation of the 
Church, ought not therefore at once to pass for a uni- 
versal law. 

The Protestant alleges, for justifying his canon of 
the Scriptures, the council of Laodicea, before men- 
tioned. You answer him perhaps that this indeed was 
the opinion of the Churches; but it was only of 
some particular Churches. I shall not here enter into 
an examination, whether this answer be well grounded 
or not: it is sufficient for me that I can then safely 
conclude from hence, that according to this account, 
before you can make use of any opinion or testimony 
out of any of the Fathers, it is necessary that you 
first make it appear, not only that it was the opinion 
of the Church at that time ; but you must further also 
clearly demonstrate to us, what Church's opinion it 
was ; whether of the Church universal, or else of some 
particular Church only. It is objected against the 
Protestants, that Epiphanius* testifies that the Church 
admitted not into the higher orders of the ministry, 
any save those that were virgins, or professed conti- 
nency. Now to make good this allegation, it is neces- 
sary that it be first proved, that the Church he there 
speaks of was the Church Universal. For (the Pro- 
testant will reply) as Laodicea had, it seems, a parti- 
cular opinion on the canon of the Scriptures ; possibly 
also Cyprus may in like manner have had its particu- 
lar resolutions as to the ordination of the clergy. The 
same may be said of the greatest part of those other 
allegations and opinions of the ancient Church. 

Now how difficult a business it will be to clear these 

tantum, alise verd apud certas tantum provincias in observantiam Ec- 
clesiarum assumuntur : sicut Laodicensis concilii 16 et 17 regulae 
apud Graecos tantum servantur : et Africani concilii 6 et 8 capitula, 
quae nulla provincia servare, nisi Africana, dignoscitur. — Anastas. 
Biblioth. ad Can. 6, Cone. 7 Gener. 
* Epipha. Heer. 59, torn. 1. 


matters, which are so full of perplexity; and to distin- 
guish the writings of antiquity at this great distance 
of time, separating that which w&s public from what 
was particular, and that which was provincial from 
what was national, and what was national from that 
which was universal — any man may be able to ima- 
gine; but none can thoroughly understand, except he 
who has made the trial. Only conceive to yourselves 
a city, that has lain in ruins a thousand years, nothing 
of which remains but the ruins of houses, lying all 
along confusedly here and there; all the rest being 
covered over with thorns and bushes. Imagine then 
that you have met with one that will undertake to 
show you precisely where the public buildings of the 
city stood, and where the private ones : which were 
the stones that belonged to the one, and which be- 
longed to the other: and, in a word, who will in the 
confused heaps, where the whole lies all together, 
separate for you, notwithstanding, the one from the 
other. The very same task in a manner does he 
undertake, who thus endeavours truly and precisely 
to distinguish the opinions of the ancient Church. 

This antiquity is now of eleven or twelve hundred 
years' standing: and the ruins of it are now only left 
us in the books of the writers of that period; which 
have indeed met with none of the best treatment in 
their passage through the several ages down to our 
time : as we have before shown. How then can we 
entertain the least hope that, amidst this so great con- 
fusion, we should be able yet to distinguish the re- 
mains, and to tell which of them honoured the public 
temple, and which went to the furnishing of private 
chapels only? especially considering that the private 
ones have each of them ambitiously endeavoured to 
make their own pass for public. For where is the 
province, or the city, or the doctor, that has not 
boasted of his own opinions and observations as 
apostolical, and not used his utmost endeavours to 
gain them the repute of being universal? Jerome 
allows every particular province full liberty to do 
herein as it pleases. " Let every province (says he) 


abound in its own sense, and hold the ordinances of 
their ancestors as apostolical laws."* 

It is true indeed, that Jerome speaks in this place 
only of certain observations of things which are in 
themselves indifferent. But yet, that which he has 
permitted them in these matters, they have practised 
in all others. I shall not here trouble myself to pro- 
duce any other reasons, to prove the difficulty of this 
inquiry, because I should then be forced to repeat a 
great part of that which has been already noticed. 

If it be a very difficult matter to attain to any cer- 
tain knowledge what the sense of the writings of the 
Fathers is, as we have proved before, how much more 
difficult a thing will it be, to discover whether their 
opinions were those of the particular Churches wherein 
they lived, or else were the opinions of the Church 
Universal i# their age ; the same things which cause 
obscurity in the one having as much or rather more 
reason for doing the like in the other. And if you 
would fully understand how painful an undertaking 
this is, only read the disputations of the learned of 
both parties on this point; where you will meet with 
so many doubts and contradictions, and such diversity 
of opinions, that you will easily conclude, that this is 
one of the greatest difficulties to be met with through- 
out the whole study of antiquity. 


Reason XI. — It is impossible to know exactly what has been the belief 
of the ancient Church, either Universal or particular, as to any of 
those points which are at this day controverted amongst us. 

Before we proceed to the Second Part of this trea- 
tise, it may not be irrelevant to give the reader this 
last advice, and let him know that, though all these 

* Unaquaeque provincia abundet in sensu suo, et praecepta major urn 
leges apostolicas arbitretur. — Hieron. ep. 28, ad Lucinum. 


difficulties before represented were removed, it would 
still be impossible for us to know certainly, out of the 
Fathers, what the judgment of the whole ancient 
Church, whether the Church Universal, or only a con- 
siderable portion of it, has been, as regards the dif- 
ferences which are now agitated in religion. 

Now that we may be able to make the truth of this 
proposition appear, it is necessary that we should first 
of all explain the terms. 

We understand commonly by the Church, (espe- 
cially in these disputations) either all those persons in 
general who profess themselves to be of the said 
Church, of what condition or quality soever they be; 
or else, in a stricter sense, the collective body of all 
those who are set over, and who are representatives 
of the Church; that is to say, the Clergy. So that 
whether you speak of the Church Universal, or of 
some particular Church — as, for example, that of 
Spain, or of Carthage — this term may be taken in 
either of these two senses. By the Church Universal 
we understand either all those persons in general, who 
live in the communion of the Christian Church, 
whether they be of the laity or of the clergy; or else 
those persons only who are Ecclesiastici, or church- 
men, as we now call them. For in the primitive 
times, all Christians that lived in the communion of 
the Catholics were called Ecclesiastici. In like man- 
ner, by the Church of Carthage is meant, either gene- 
rally, all the Faithful that lived in the particular 
communion of the Christian Church of Carthage; or 
else particularly, and in a stricter sense, the bishop of 
Carthage, with his whole clergy. 

Now I do not believe that there is any man, but 
will easily grant me, that if we take the Church in 
the first sense, it is impossible to know, by way of 
testimony given of the same, what the sense and 
judgment of it have been in each distinct age, as to 
all the points of the Christian religion. We may in- 
deed collect, by way of discourse, what has been the 
belief of the true members of the Church. For there 
being some certain articles, the belief of which is 


necessarily requisite for the rendering a man such ; 
whosoever rightly understands which these articles 
are, may certainly conclude that the true Church, 
whether universal or particular, has believed the 
same. But now, in the first place, this does not ex- 
tend to all the points of the Christian religion, but 
only to those which are necessary: besides which 
there are various others, concerning which we may 
have not only different but even contrary judgments; 
and yet not thereby hazard the loss either of the com- 
munion of the Church, or of our inheritance of ever- 
lasting salvation. But this reasoning applies only to 
those who are the true members of the Church. As 
for those who make but an outward profession of the 
truth, it being not at all necessary that they should be 
saved, there is in like manner no more necessity for 
their embracing those beliefs which are requisite for 
that end. They may, under this mask, hide all kind 
of opinions, however impious they are. Lastly, that 
which makes most for our purpose is, that this know- 
ledge is acquired by discourse; whereas we speak 
here of such a knowledge as is collected by the hear- 
ing of several witnesses, who give in their testimonies 
as to the thing which we would ascertain. Now the 
Fathers having written with a purpose of informing 
us, not what each particular man believed in their 
time, but rather what they thought fit that all men 
should have believed, we must needs conclude that 
certainly they have not told us all that they knew on 
this particular. And therefore partly their charity 
and partly their prudence may have caused them to 
pass by in silence all such opinions, either of whole 
companies, or of particular persons, as they conceived 
to be not so consonant to the truth. But supposing 
that they had not any of these considerations, and that 
they had taken upon them to give us a just account, 
each man of the opinions of his particular church 
wherein he lived ; it is evident, however, that they 
could never have been able to have attained to the 
end of their design. For how is it possible that they 
should have been able to have learnt what the opinion 


of every single person was, amongst so vast a multi- 
tude, which consisted of so many several persons, who 
were of such different capacities and dispositions? 
Who will believe that Cyprian, for example, knew all 
the several opinions of each particular person in his 
diocese, so as to be able to give us an account of the 
same ? Who can imagine, but that among such a mul- 
titude of people as lived in the communion of his 
church, there must needs have been very many who 
differed in opinion from him, on divers points of reli- 
gion? Even at this very day, that we may not 
trouble ourselves to look so high, we see by expe- 
rience, that there is scarcely that parish to be found, 
however small, where there are not particular persons 
that maintain, in many points of religion, opinions 
different from those of their minister. But if we take 
a whole diocese together, and pass by all those who 
trouble themselves not at all with the difference of 
opinions in religion, whether it be by reason of their 
want of years, or their weakness of judgment, or their 
malice; and take notice only of the rest, dividing 
them according to the difference of their opinions; I 
am persuaded that that part which shall agree in all 
points with the bishop of that diocese, will many 
times be found to be the least. Let a bishop preach 
or write what he will, on the points which are now in 
controversy, he will scarcely represent to you the 
opinions of half the people of his diocese. 

Now we must conceive that the temper of the 
world of old was no other than what it is at this pre- 
sent day; and therefore, for this very reason, the 
liberty of embracing what opinions a man pleased 
was much greater then than it is now ; inasmuch as 
the Church of Rome did not exercise its power then 
throughout Christendom so absolutely as it does now- 
a-days:* neither did the pastors or the princes use 
that severity and rigour which is now everywhere 
practised in our times, for the repressing this diversity 
of opinions. We must therefore necessarily believe, 

* That is, at the commencement of the sixteenth century. — Ed. 


that the opinions of the faithful were in those days 
altogether as different, if not much more than they 
are now. Whence it will also follow, that even the 
doctors themselves, who lived in those times, could 
not know all the different opinions of men, much less 
could they represent them to us in their writings. 

We shall not dwell any longer upon what no man 
can deny; but shall rather proceed to the considera- 
tion of that which every one no doubt will be here 
ready to retort on us, respecting this particular; name- 
ly, that it is not necessary that we should know the 
opinions, in points of religion, of all individual persons, 
which are almost infinite in number, and for the most 
part very ill grounded and uncertain : but that it is 
sufficient, if we know what the belief has been of the 
pastors, and those who have been set over the Church: 
that is to say, of the Church taken in the latter sense. 
Yet I confess I do not see that this rule is so abso- 
lutely right, that we ought to adhere to it. For if we 
are to take the Church for the rule and foundation of 
our faith (as the authors of this reply pretend we 
ought to do,) the people, in my judgment, ought not 
then to be here excluded and passed by, as being of 
no consideration. I confess, the opinions of particu- 
lar persons are very different, one from the other; 
and the knowledge of some of them is very confined, 
and sometimes none at all. But yet possibly this rea- 
son may chance to exclude even a good part of the 
clergy also from the authority to which they lay claim 
in this particular; as it cannot be denied that both 
ignorance and malice have oftentimes as great a share 
here, proportionably, as they have among the very 
people themselves. Who sees not, that if we must 
have regard to the capacity of men, there are some- 
times found, even among the plain ordinary sort of 
Christians in a Church, those that are more consider- 
able, both for their learning and piety, than the pas- 
tors themselves? One of those Fathers, of whom we 
now discourse, has informed us, " That many times 
have the clergy erred ; the bishop has wavered in his 
opinion: the rich men have adhered in their judgment 


to the earthly princes of the world ; meanwhile the 
people alone preserved the faith entire."* 

Seeing therefore that it may sometimes happen, and 
that it has also many times happened, that the clergy 
have held erroneous opinions, while the people held 
the true, it is very evident, in my judgment, that the 
opinion of the people in these cases ought not wholly 
to be neglected. Truly Cyprian tells us in divers 
places, that the Church in his time had the people in 
very great esteem; no business of any importance 
being then transacted without communicating the 
same to the people; as may be seen in the epistles of 
this Father: insomuch that "The greatest part of the 
people also were present at the council of Carthage,"t 
where the question on the baptism of heretics was 
debated; whereof we have already spoken somewhat 
a little before. But because this point is controverted, 
I shall pass it over this time. Let us therefore grant, 
(since our adversaries will needs have it so,) that it is 
sufficient in this case to know what the belief was of 
the Church, taken in the latter and stricter sense; that 
is to say, of the clergy : for even this way it is evident 
enough that it is a very hard, if not an impossible 
thing, truly to discover what it has been in each dis- 
tinct age. For there is no less diversity of opinion 
among the clergy, than there is among the people ; 
and many times too there is much more : being con- 
versant in books usually reducing things into nicer 
subtilties, and giving occasion for raising divers opin- 
ions on the same. 

Who is he that will undertake to give us an account 
what the opinion is of all the clergy of one city only, 
(I do not say of a kingdom, or of all Christendom) 
concerning all the articles of religion? Who would 
be able to perform this, if he should undertake it? 
Never was there more exact care taken, for the con- 
servation of uniformity in judgment among Christians, 

* Plerumque clerus erravit; sacerdotum nutavit sententia; divites 
cum saeculi istius terreno rege senserunt; populus fidem propriam 
reservavit.— Ambros. Ser. 17, t. 4. p. 725. 

t Praesente etiam plebis maxima parte. — Cypr. in Cone. Carthag. 


than is now at this day; when there is use made, not 
only of the censures and thunderbolts of the Church, 
but even also of the fire and the sword of the secular 
powers. Yet notwithstanding all this, how many 
ecclesiastical persons are there to be found, even in 
those very places where these rigorous measures are 
observed with the greatest strictness, even at Rome 
itself, and as it were in the Pope's own bosom, who 
differ very much in judgment respecting points of 
religion, both from their equals and from their supe- 
riors? In France, where, by the blessing of God, the 
liberty of conscience is much greater than in other 
places, it would be a wonder, if, where four clergy- 
men of the more learned and polite sort had met 
together, two of them should not, upon some point or 
other of the faith, differ in judgment from the main 
body of their Church. 

Here I have to entreat all those who follow Cas- 
sander in great numbers (who adore the monuments 
of the Fathers, and take whatsoever they find in him 
for the general sense of the ancient Christians,) only 
to turn their eyes back a little upon themselves, and 
to consider how many opinions they themselves hold, 
which are not only different, but even quite con- 
trary to the Church, in the communion of which they 
live, and of which they profess themselves to be mem- 
bers, and by which indeed they subsist. The differ- 
ence is here so great, that it seems to be, as it were, 
one state within another state, and one Church within 
another Church. Yet notwithstanding, when any of 
the doctors of that party to which they adhere, deliver 
unto us, either in their definitions, or in their sermons, 
or in their books, the common sense and judgment of 
their Church, this intermixture of opinions quite dis- 
appears. They speak only of the opinions of others, 
passing by those of Cassander, which are contrary to 
them, in silence, as if they did not at all concern the 
Church of Rome. Yet it is very well known, even to 
us who live at this very day, that they are favoured 
and maintained by very many of the most eminent 
persons of the Roman clergy. And if this senseless 


sect, who forsooth think themselves much more refined 
in their opinions than the rest of the body whereof 
they are a part, should chance in time either to fall 
of itself, or be suppressed by force, the memory of 
them would so utterly come to nothing, that posterity 
would know nothing of their doctrines, except by con- 
jecture. Every one will then suppose that the Church 
of Rome at this time held precisely to the doctrine 
and opinions that he reads in the decrees of Trent, 
and in other similar books: and yet notwithstanding 
we both know and see that among those very persons 
who have been anointed, consecrated, and preferred 
also by the said Church, there is a party that dissents 
from it in judgment on divers important articles of 
faith. We may therefore conclude that the ancient 
Church had also its Cassanders, and very many even 
among the clergy itself, who held opinions different 
from those which were the common belief of the 
Church, and which it hath at length by little and 
little sunk, as it were, under water, and wholly swal- 
lowed up; so that now there is not any trace of them 

Christianity was either different in the ancient times 
from what it is now, or else it was the same. If it 
was different, it is then a piece of mere sophistry, to 
endeavour to make it seem to be the same ; and a 
very great abuse to produce us, for this purpose, so 
many different testimonies from antiquity. If it were 
the same, it must then without all doubt have pro- 
duced the same accidents, and have sown the same 
seeds of diversity of opinion, in the spirits of its clergy. 
Those opinions and observations, which now give 
offence to the Cassandrists, would then also have 
offended some persons or other, that Avere endued 
with the like moderation. For we are not to conceive 
but that those first ages of Christianity brought forth 
spirits that were as much, and more refined and deli- 
cate than ours. 

But that we may insist upon this particular no 
longer, it is sufficient for me, that I have thus clearly 
made it appear, that in the ancient Church the whole 


clergy of a city, or of a nation, much less of the whole 
world, had not necessarily one and the same sense 
and opinion on points of religion. So that it will fol- 
low from hence, that we cannot know with certainty, 
whether those opinions with which we meet in the 
Fathers, were received or not by all and each of the 
pastors of the Church at that time, All that you can 
gather thence is but this at the most; that they them- 
selves, and some others perhaps of the most eminent 
amongst them (if you please,) maintained such or such 
opinions : in like manner, as that which Bellarmine 
and others have written on the Sacrament of the 
Eucharist, will inform posterity, that these men, and 
many others of our time, held these opinions in the 
Church of Rome. But as those who shall conclude, 
from the books of these authors, that there is at this 
day no other opinion maintained among the clergy 
themselves of the Church of Rome, on this particular, 
would very much mislead themselves; so is it much 
to be feared that we in like manner deceive ourselves, 
when, from what we find in two or three of the 
Fathers, we conclude that there was at that time no 
other opinion held in the Christian Church on those 
points whereof they treat, except that which they 
have delivered. It is a very hazardous business to 
take eight or ten men, however holy and learned they 
may have been, as sureties for all doctors of the 
Church Universal that lived in their age. This is too 
little security for so great a sum. 

Now, there are two things which may be objected 
against that which we have before delivered. The 
first is, that if there had been in antiquity any other 
opinions on the points now in debate, which had been 
different from those we now meet with in the books, 
either of all the Fathers, or at least of some of them, 
they would have mentioned and refuted them. But 
we have already heretofore answered this objection, 
by saying that the Fathers forbare to speak any thing 
of this diversity of opinion, partly out of prudence, 
lest they might provoke the authors of the said opin- 
ions, which were contrary to their own, and so increase 


the difference, instead of appeasing it; and partly also 
out of charity; mildly bearing with that which they 
accounted not dangerous. 

I only speak here of those differences in opinions 
which they knew of: for there might be a great num- 
ber of others of which they knew not. Who can 
oblige you to believe that a monk, for example, that 
had retired into a corner, and as it were forsaken the 
world, professing only to instruct a small number of 
men and women in the rules of devotion, must needs 
have known what the opinions in points of religion 
of all the prelates of his age were? Who will pass 
his word to us in his behalf, that he does not some- 
times reprove that in some men, which yet the Church 
allowed in an infinite number of others? Who will 
warrant us that all Christendom in his time embraced 
all his opinions, and had no other of their own? 

Possevine, answering an objection relative to the 
works of Dionysius the Areopagite, which Jerome 
has made no mention of, says, that it is no great won- 
der that a man who lay hid in a corner of the world 
should not have seen this book, which the Arians 
endeavoured to suppress.* May not a man with as 
much reason say, that it is no great wonder if Jerome 
or Epiphanius, or any other authors who were all of 
them engaged with their particular charges and em- 
ployments, did not know of some opinions of the 
prelates of their age ; or that either their modesty, or 
their charity, or the little eloquence and repute they 
had, might have made them conceal the same ? 

The other objection is drawn from the fact that 
these doctors of the ancient church, who held some 
opinions different from those which we read at this 
day in the Fathers, did not publish them at all. But 
I answer first of all, that every man is not able to do 
so. In the next place, those who were able were not 
always willing. Various other considerations may 
perhaps also have hindered them from so doing ; and 
if they are wise and pious men, they are never moved 
till the necessity arises. And hence it is, that often- 

* Possevine in Appar. 


times those opinions which have less truth in them do 
yet prevail ; because prudence, Avhich maintains the 
true opinion, is mild and patient : whereas rashness, 
which defends the false, is of a froward, eager, and 
ambitious nature. 

Now let us but imagine how many of the evidences 
of this diversity of opinion may have been lost by the 
various ways before represented, having been de- 
voured by time, or suppressed by malicious men, for 
fear they should let the world see the traces of the 
truth which they would have concealed. But that I 
may not be thought to adduce bare conjectures with- 
out any proof, I shall produce some examples for the 
confirming and elucidating my assertions. 

Epiphanius maintains against Aerius,* whom he 
ranks among the Heresiarchs, that a bishop, accord- 
ing to the Apostle Paul, and the original institution of 
the office itself, is more than a priest: and this he 
proves in many words, answering all the objections 
that are made to the contrary. If you only read the 
passage, I am confident that when you have done, 
you would not hesitate to swear that what he has 
there delivered, was the general opinion of all the 
doctors of the Church ; it being very unlikely that so 
great and so renowned a prelate would so positively 
have denied the opinion which he disputed against, 
if any one of his own familiar friends had also main- 
tained the same. Yet for all this, Jerome, who was 
one of the principal lights of our western Church, and 
who lived at the same time with Epiphanius, who 
was his intimate friend, and a great admirer of his 
piety, says expressly, "that among the ancients, bish- 
ops and priests were the same ; the one being a name 
of dignity, and the other of age."t That it may not 
be thought that this fell from him in discourse only, 
he there undertakes to prove the same at large, alleg- 

* Epiph. in Panar. Haer. 75. 

t Quanquam apud veteres iidem episcopi et presbyteri fuerint : quia 
illud nomen dignitatis est, hoc aetatis. — (Hieron. Ep. 83. ad Ocean, 
torn. 2.) — Cum Apostolus perspicue doceat eosdem esse presbyteros, 
quos et episcopos, &c. — Id. ep. 85. ad Evagr. torn. 2. 


ing several passages of Scripture on this subject;* 
and he also repeats the same thing, in two or three 
several places of his work; whereby it evidently ap- 
pears that even positions quite contradictory to the 
opinions which have been delivered and maintained 
by some of the Fathers, and proposed in whatever 
terms, have notwithstanding been sometimes either 
maintained, or at least tolerated, by some others of no 
less authority. 

Jerome himself has severely criticised Ruffinus, and 
condemned many of his opinions as most pernicious 
and deadly; yet we do not anywhere find that he 
was ever accounted a heretic by the rest of the 
Fathers. But we shall have occasion hereafter to 
consider more at large similar examples; and shall 
only at present observe, that if those books of Jerome, 
which we mentioned a little before, should have 
chanced to be lost, every man would then assuredly 
have concluded from Epiphanius, that no doctor of 
the ancient Church ever held, that a bishop and a 
priest were one and the same thing in their institution. 

Who now, after all this, will assure us, that among 
so many other opinions as have been rejected here 
and there by the Fathers, and that too in as plain 
terms as those of Epiphanius, none of them have 
ever been defended by some of the learned of those 
times? Or, is it not possible, that they may have held 
them, though they did not write in defence of the 
same ? Or may they not perhaps have written also 
in defence of them, and their books have been since 
lost? How small is the number of those in the 
Church, who had the ability, or at least the will, to 
write? And how much smaller is the number of 
those whose writings have been able to secure them- 
selves against either the inj ury of time or the malice 
of men? 

It is objected against the Protestants, as we have 
observed before, that Jerome commends and maintains 

* Id. Com. in Agg\ torn. 5. p. 512. Et Com. in Tit. torn. 6. 
p. 443. 



the adoration of relics: but yet he himself testifies, 
that there were some bishops, who defended Vigilan- 
tius, who held the contrary opinion ; whom he, accord- 
ing to his ordinary rhetoric, calls " accomplices in his 

Who knows now what these bishops were, and 
whether they deserved any such usage at Jerome's 
hands or no? For the expressions which he uses 
against them, and against their opinions, are so full 
of gall and enmity, that they utterly take away all 
credit from his testimony. But we have insisted long 
enough upon this particular, and shall therefore for- 
bear to instance any further in others. 

As it is therefore impossible to discover exactly, out 
of the Fathers, what have been the sense and judg- 
ment of the ancient Church, — whether taken univer- 
sally or particularly, or whether the Church is taken 
for the whole body of believers, or for the prelates 
and inferior clergy only, — I shall here conclude as 
heretofore, that the writings of the ancients are alto- 
gether insufficient for proving the truth of any of 
those points which are at this day controverted 
amongst us. 

* Proh ! nefas, episcopos sui sceleris dicitur habere consortes. — 
Hier. in Vigil. 2, p. 159. 




Reason I — That the Testimonies given by the Fathers, on the doctrines 
of the Church, are not always true and certain. 

We have before shown how difficult it is to discover 
what the sense of the Fathers has been, as respects 
the points at this day controverted in religion; owing 
to the small number of books of the Fathers of the 
first centuries that have come down to us; and those 
which we have, moreover, treating of things of a very- 
different nature from our present disputes; and of 
which besides we cannot be very well assured, by 
reason of the many forgeries and monstrous corrup- 
tions, which they have for so long a time been subject 
to ; also by reason of the obscurity and ambiguity in 
their expressions; and their often representing to us 
the opinions rather of others than of their authors: 
besides those imperfections which are found in them; 
as for instance their not informing us in what degree 
of faith we are to hold each particular point of doc- 
trine ; and their leaving us in doubt, whether what 
they teach be the judgment of the Church, or their 
own private opinion: and whether, if it be the judg- 
ment of the Church, it be of the Church Universal, or 
of some particular Church only. 

Now the least of these objections is sufficient to 
render their testimony invalid: and that this testimony 


may be of force, it is necessary that it be clearly and 
evidently free from all these defects; forasmuch as 
the question is here touching the Christian faith, which 
ought to be grounded on nothing but what is sure 
and certain. Whosoever therefore would make use 
of any passage out of a Father, he is bound first to 
make it appear that the author, out of whom he cites 
the said passage, lived and wrote in the first ages of 
Christianity; and moreover, that the said person is 
well known to be the author of the book out of which 
the passage is quoted: and also that the passage cited 
is no way corrupted nor altered: and likewise, that 
the sense which he gives of it, is the true genuine 
sense of the passage; and that it was the opinion of 
the author, when he had arrived at ripeness of judg- 
ment, and which he changed not, nor retracted after- 
wards. He must also make it appear in what degree 
he held it; and whether he maintained it as his own 
private opinion only, or as the opinion of the Church : 
and lastly, whether it was the opinion of the Church 
Universal, or of some particular Church only : which 
inquiry is of such vast and almost infinite labour, that 
it makes me very much doubt whether or not we can 
be ever able to attain a full and certain assurance 
what the positive sense of the ancients has been, on 
the whole body of controversies now debated in this 
age. Hence therefore our principal question seems 
to be decided; whether adducing the Fathers be a 
sufficient and proper means for demonstrating the 
truth of all those articles which are at this day main- 
tained by the Church of Rome, and rejected by the 
Protestants. For who does not now see that this kind 
of proof has as much or more difficulty in it than the 
question itself? and that such testimonies are as ob- 
scure as the controverted opinions themselves? Not- 
withstanding, that we may not be thought too hasty, 
and upon too light grounds to reject this way of pro- 
ceeding, we will pass by all the obscurity that is found, 
as regards the opinions of the ancients ; and supposing 
it to be no difficult matter to discover what was the 
opinion and sense of the Fathers on the aforesaid 


points, we will now, in this Second Book, consider 
whether or not their authority be such, as that we 
ought or may, without further examination, believe, 
on their authority, what we know to a certainty was 
their belief, and hold it in the same degree as they 

There are two sorts of passages to be observed in 
the writings of the Fathers : in the one you have them 
speaking only as witnesses, and testifying what the 
belief of the Church was in their time: in the other, 
they propose to you, like doctors, their own private 
opinions. Now there is a world of difference betwixt 
these two things : for in a witness, there is required 
only faithfulness and truth; but in a doctor, learning 
and knowledge. The one persuades us by the opinion 
we have of his veracity ; the other, by the strength of 
his arguments. The Fathers are witnesses only when 
they barely tell us that the Church in their times held 
such or such opinions: and they are doctors, when, 
mounting as it were the dictatorial chair, they pro- 
pose to us their own opinions; making them good 
either by Scripture or by reason. 

Now as it concerns the testimonies they give on the 
faith held by the Church in their time, I know not 
whether we ought to receive all they bring for certain 
truths or not: but of this I am sure, that though they 
should deserve to be received by us for such, yet 
nevertheless would they answer little purpose as to 
the business now in hand. The reason which induces 
me to doubt of the former of these, is, because I observe 
that those very men, who are the greatest admirers 
of the Fathers, do yet confess, that although they err 
very little, or not at all, in matter of right, yet never- 
theless they often err, and have their failings, in mat- 
ter of fact: because right is a universal thing, which 
is every way uniform, and all of one kind; whereas 
matter of fact is a thing which is mixed, and as it 
were enchased with divers particular circumstances, 
which may very easily escape the knowledge of, or 
at least be not so rightly understood by, the most clear 
and penetrating minds. Now the condition of the 


Church's belief in every particular age, is matter of 
fact and not of right; a point of history, and not an 
article of faith: so that it follows hence, that possibly 
the Fathers may have erred in giving us an account 
hereof; and that therefore their testimonies in such 
cases ought not to be received by us as infallibly true ; 
neither yet may we be thought hereby to accuse the 
Fathers of falsehood. For how often do the most 
honest persons innocently testify to such things as 
they thought they had seen, which it afterwards ap- 
pears that they saw not at all? for goodness renders 
not men infallible. The Fathers therefore being but 
men, might both be deceived themselves in such things, 
and might consequently also deceive those who have 
confided in them, though innocently, and without any 
design of doing so. But besides all this, it is very 
evident that they have not been wholly free from 
passion either : and there is no man but knows that 
passion very often disguises things, and makes them 
appear, even to the most honest men, much otherwise 
than they are; insomuch that sometimes they are 
affectionately carried away with one opinion, and do 
as much abhor another. This secret passion might 
easily make them believe that the Church held that 
opinion with which they themselves were most cap- 
tivated; and that it rejected that which they them- 
selves disliked, especially if there were but the least 
appearance or shadow of reason to incline them to 
this belief. For men are very easily persuaded to 
believe what they desire. 

I conceive we may here adduce the testimony of 
Jerome, where he affirms, "That the Churches of 
Christ held that the souls of men were immediately 
created by God, at the instant of their entrance into 
the body."* And yet, that doubt, which Augustine 
was in, in this particular, and his evidently inclining 

* Omne deinceps humanum genus quibus animarum censetur exor- 
diis? utrum ex traduce, juxta bruta animalia, &c.; an rationabiles 
creaturae desiderio corporum, &c.; an certe, quod ecclesiasticum est, 
quotidie Deus fabricetur animas: cujus veJIe fecissc est, et conditor 
esse non cessat ? — Hier, ep. 61. de Error, Jo, Hier. 


to the contrary opinion; which was, that the soul 
was propagated together with the body, and descended 
from the father to the son; manifestly proves that the 
Church had not at that time embraced or determined 
on the former of these opinions; it being utterly impro- 
bable, that so modest a man as Augustine would have 
rejected the general opinion of the Church, and have 
taken up a particular fancy of his own. But the feel- 
ing wherewith Jerome was at that time carried away 
against Ruffinus, a great part of the learned men of 
his time being also of the same opinion, easily brought 
him to a belief that it was the common judgment and 
opinion of the whole Christian Church.* From the 
same root also sprang that error of John bishop of 
Thessalonica, (if at least it be an error) who affirmed, 
"That the opinion of the Church was, that angels are 
not wholly incorporeal and invisible ; but that they 
have bodies, though of a very rare and thin substance ; 
not much unlike those of the fire or the air."t For 
those who published the general councils at Rome 
conceive this to have been his own private opinion 
only 4 If this be so (and we need not at present 
examine the truth of the assertion,) you then plainly 
see, that the affection this author bore to his own 
opinion carried him so far away, as to make him 
father upon the whole Church what was indeed but 
his own particular opinion : though otherwise he was 
a man who was highly esteemed by the seventh coun- 
cil ;§ which not only cites him among the Fathers, but 
honours him also with the title of a Father. 

Epiphanius must also be excused in the same man- 
ner, where he assures us that the Church held by 
apostolical tradition the custom which it had of meet- 
ing together thrice a week, for the celebration of the 

* Miraris si contra te fratrum scandala concitentur; cum id nescire 
te jures, quodChristi Ecclesiae se scire fatentur ? — Id. Apol. 2. contra 

t Noipcv; /uiv aiurcvs « K'-iQokmn \kkki\ctia yivoocntu, ob /um ao-cejuxrouc 7rctyrn 
wu aopxToug, Xi7TTO(rco/ixcx.roug <fe kxi atpadw, « 7rupmAu$. — Joan. Thessal. in 
Concil. 7, Act. 5. 

X Loquitur ex propria sententia. — Ibid, in Marg. 

§ Concil. 7, Act. 5. 


holy Eucharist; but which Petavius makes appear 
not to have been of apostolical institution.* 

The mistakes of the Venerable Bede, noted and 
censured elsewhere by Petavius,! are of the same 
nature also : " The belief of the Church, if I mistake 
not, (says he,) is, that our Saviour Christ lived in the 
flesh thirty-three years, or thereabouts, till the time of 
the passion:" and he says moreover, "That the Church 
of Rome testifies that this is its belief, by the marks 
which they yearly set upon their tapers on Good Fri- 
day ; whereon they always inscribe a number of years, 
which is less by thirty-three than the common sera of 
the Christians." He likewise says, in the same place, 
"That it is not lawful for any Catholic to doubt whether 
Jesus Christ suffered on the cross the 15th day of the 
moon, or not."f 

Petavius has proved at large, that both these opin- 
ions which Bede delivers as the Church's belief, are 
nothing less than what he would have them.§ 

The curious reader may observe many similar traits 
in the writings of the Fathers: but those already 
noticed, in my judgment, sufficiently justify the doubt 
which I have offered; that we ought not to receive, 
as certain truths, the testimony which the Fathers 
give, as regards the doctrine of the Church in their 
time. Nevertheless, that we may not seem to make 
a breach upon the honour and reputation of the 
Fathers, I say, that though we should grant, that all 
their depositions and testimonies in this particular 
were certainly and undoubtedly true; yet notwith- 
standing they would be of little use to us in our pre- 

* Petav. in Epiphan. pag. 354. 

f Petav. in Epiphan. p. 113. 143. 145. 

$ Habet enim, nisi fallor, ecclesiae fides, Dominum in carne paulo 
plus minus quam xxxiii annis, usque ad sues tempora passionis vix- 
isse. Mox; Sancta si quidem Roinana et apostolica ecclesia hanc se 
fidem tenere; et ipsis testatur indiculis, quoe suis in cereis annuatim 
inscribere solet, ubi tempus Dominicae passionis in memoriam populis 
revocans, numerum annorum triginta semper et tribus annis minorem 
quam ab ejus incarnatione Dionysius ponat, annotat. (Id. ibid.) Nam 
quod Dominus xv. Luna, feria vi. crucem ascendent, &c. nulli licet 
dubitare Catholico. — Beda, lib. de Temp, ratione* c. 45. 

§ Petav. in. Epiphan. p. 113. 143. 


sent purpose. For, in the first place, there are but 
very few passages wherein they testify plainly, and 
in direct terms, what the doctrine of the Church in 
their time was, as regards the points now controverted 
amongst us. This is the business of an historian 
rather than of a doctor of the Church; whose office 
is to teach, to prove, and to exhort the people com- 
mitted to his charge, and to correct their vices and 
errors; telling them what they ought to do or believe, 
rather than troubling them with discourses of what is 
done or believed by others. Yet when they do give 
their testimony as to what were the doctrine and dis- 
cipline of the Church in their time ; it ought to extend 
only to what was evidently such, and which moreover 
was apparent to themselves also. 

Now, as we have formerly proved, they could not 
possibly know the sense and opinions of every par- 
ticular Christian that lived in their time ; nor yet of 
all the pastors and ministers who were set over them : 
but of some particular Christians only. As therefore 
it is confessed, even by those very men who have the 
Church in greatest esteem, that the belief of particular 
Churches is not infallible, we may very easily per- 
ceive that such testimonies of the Fathers as these can 
be of little avail; seeing that they represent to us such 
opinions as are not always certainly and undoubtedly 
true, and which consequently are so far from con- 
firming and proving ours, that they rather stand in 
need of being examined and proved themselves. But 
suppose that the Church of Rome did hold that the 
beliefs of particular Churches were infallible (which 
however it does not,) yet this would not at all mili- 
tate against the Protestants, as they are of a quite con- 
trary opinion. 

Now it is taken for granted on all hands that proofs 
ought to be taken from such things as are confessed 
and acknowledged by your adversary, whom you 
endeavour to convince ; otherwise you will never be 
able to change him, or induce him to quit his former 
opinion. Seeing therefore that the testimonies of the 
Fathers, as to the state of the faith and ecclesiastical 


discipline of their times, are of this nature : it remains 
for us now to consider their other discourses, wherein 
they have delivered themselves, not as witnesses de- 
posing what they had seen, but as doctors instructing 
us in what they believed: and certainly, however 
holy and able they were, it cannot be denied but that 
they were still men; and consequently were subject 
to error, especially in points of faith, so much tran- 
scending human apprehension. The Spirit of God 
alone was able to direct their understandings and their 
pens in the truth, and to withhold them from falling 
into any error : in like manner as it directed the holy 
prophets and apostles, while they wrote the books of 
the Old and New Testament. Now we cannot be 
any way assured that the Spirit of God was present 
always with them, to enlighten their understandings, 
and to make them see the truth of all those things of 
which they wrote. They pretend not to this them- 
selves, nor yet does any one that I know attribute to 
them this assistance, unless it be perhaps the author 
of the " Gloss upon the Decrees," who is of opinion 
that we ought to stand to all that the Fathers have 
written, even to the least tittle:* but he is very justly 
called to account for this, by Alphonsus a Castro,t 
and Melchior Canus,J two Spanish doctors. 

Since, therefore, we are not bound to believe any 
thing but what is true; it is most evident that we 
neither may nor ought to believe the opinions of the 
Fathers, till such times as they appear to us to have 
been certainly true. Now we cannot be certainly 
assured of this by their single authority; seeing that 
they were but men, who were not always inspired 
by the Holy Spirit from above : and therefore it is 
necessary that we make use of some other guides in 
this our inquiry; namely, either of the Holy Scrip- 
tures, or of reason, or tradition, or the doctrine of the 
present Church, or of some other means, such as they 

* Hodie jubentur omnia teneri, usque ad ultimum iota. — Gloss, in 
Deer. D.9.C. 3. 

t Alphons. a Castr. 1. 1. advers. Haer. c. 7. 
t Melch. Canus. 1. 7, loc. Theol. c. 3. Num. 4. 


themselves have made use of. It hence follows that 
their bare assertions are no sufficient ground for us to 
build any of our opinions on ; as they only serve to 
incline us beforehand to the belief of the same ; the 
great opinion which we have of them causing us to 
conclude that they would never have embraced such 
an opinion, except it had been true. This manner of 
argumentation, however, is at the best but probable, 
so long as the persons we have here to do with are 
only men and no more ; and in this particular case, 
where the question is on points of faith, it is by no 
means to be allowed; since faith is to be grounded, 
not upon probabilities, but upon necessary truths. 
The Fathers are like other great masters in this point, 
and their opinions are more or less valid, in proportion 
to the reason and authority on which they are ground- 
ed: they have, however, this advantage, that their 
very names beget in us a readiness and inclination 
to receive whatever emanates from them; while we 
think it very improbable that such excellent men as 
they were, should ever believe any thing that was 

Thus, in human sciences, the saying of an Aristotle 
is of far different value from that of any other philo- 
sopher of less account; because all men are before- 
hand possessed with an opinion, that this great philo- 
sopher would not maintain any thing that was not 
consonant to reason. But this is prejudice only; for, 
if, upon better examination, it should be found to be 
otherwise, his bare authority would then no longer 
prevail with us ; what he himself had once wisely- 
said, would then here take place — " That it is a sacred 
thing always to prefer the truth before friendship;" 

Let the Fathers, therefore, if you please, be the 
Aristotles in Christian philosophy, and let us have a 
reverent esteem of them and their writings as they 
deserve ; and not be too rash in concluding that per- 
sons so eminent for learning and sanctity should main- 
tain any erroneous or vain opinions, especially in a 

* Arist. in Ethic. 1. 1, c. 6. 


matter of so great importance: yet notwithstanding 
are we bound to remember, that they were but men, 
and that their memory, understanding, or judgment, 
might sometimes fail them, and therefore, consequent- 
ly, that we are to examine their writings by those 
principles from whence they draw their conclusions, 
and not to rest satisfied with their bare assertions, 
until we have discovered them to be true. 

If I were to speak of any other persons than of the 
Fathers, I should not add any thing more to what has 
been now said; sufficient having been, in my judg- 
ment, already adduced, to prove that they are not of 
themselves of sufficient authority to oblige us neces- 
sarily to follow their opinions. But seeing that the 
question is relative to those great names, who are so 
highly honoured in the Church; in order that no man 
may accuse us of endeavouring to rob them of any 
of the respect which is due to them, I conceive it 
necessary to examine this matter a little more rigidly, 
and to make it appear, on due consideration, that they 
are of no more authority, either in themselves or in 
regard to us, than we have already attributed to them. 


Reason II. — The Fathers testify themselves that they are not to be 
believed absolutely, and upon their own bare assertion, in what they 
declare in matters of religion. 

There are none so fit to inform us what the authority 
of the writings of the ancients is, as the ancients 
themselves, who in all reason must necessarily know 
this better than we. Let us therefore now hear what 
they testify in this particular; and if we do indeed 
hold them in such high esteem, as we profess, let us 
allow of their judgment in this particular, attributing 
neither more nor less to the ancients, than they them- 
selves require at our hands. 


Augustine, who was the principal light of the Latin 
Church, having entered into a contest with Jerome, 
on the interpretation before-mentioned, of the second 
chapter of the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians; and 
finding himself hardly pressed by the authority of six 
or seven Greek writers, which are urged against him 
by the other; to extricate himself, states in what ac- 
count he held that kind of writers: — " I confess," says 
he, " to thy charity, that I have learned to pay to those 
books of Scripture alone which are now called cano- 
nical, such reverence and honour, as to believe stead- 
fastly that none of their authors ever committed any 
error in writing them. And if by chance I there 
meet with any thing, which seems to contradict the 
truth, I immediately think that either my copy is im- 
perfect, and not so correct as it should be ; or else, 
that the interpreter did not so well understand the 
words of the original: or lastly, that I myself have 
not so rightly understood him. But as for all other 
writers, however eminent they are, either for sanctity 
or learning, I read them in such manner as not in- 
stantly to conclude that whatever I there find is true, 
because they have said it; but rather, because they 
convince me, either out of the said canonical books 
of Scripture, or else by some probable reason, that 
what they say is true. Neither do I think, brother, 
that thou thyself art of any other opinion: that is to 
say, I do not believe that thou expectest that we 
should read thy books, as we do those of the Prophets 
or Apostles; of the truth of whose writings, as being 
exempt from all error, we may not in anywise doubt."* 

* Ego enim fateor caritati tuae solis eis Scripturarum libris, qui 
jam canonici appellantur, didici hunc timorem, honoremque deferre, 
ut nullum eorum auctorem scribendo aliquid errasse firmissime cre- 
dam. Ac si aliquid in eis offendcro litteris, quod videatur contra- 
rium veritati, nihil aliud quam mendosum esse codicem, vel inter- 
pretem non assequutum esse quod dictum est, vel me minime intellex- 
isse, non ambigam. Alios autem ita lego, ut quantalibet sanctitate, 
doctrinaque prsepolleant, non ideo verum putem, quia ipsi ita sense- 
runt, sed quia mihi, vel per illos authores canonicos, vel probabili 
ratione, quod a vero non abhorreat, persuadere potuerunt. Nee te, 
mi frater, sentire aliquid aliter existimo: prorsus inquam, non te ar- 
bitror sic legi libros tuos velle tanquam Prophetarum vel Apostolo- 


Having afterwards opposed some other similar au- 
thorities against those alleged by Jerome, he adds, 
" That he had done so, notwithstanding that, to say 
the truth, he accounted the canonical Scriptures only 
to be the books to which (as he said before) he owed 
that ingenuous duty, as to be fully persuaded that the 
authors of them never erred, or deceived the reader 
in any thing. "* 

This holy man accounted this advice to be of such 
great importance, that he thought fit to repeat it again 
in another place ; and I must entreat my reader to 
give me leave to extract here the whole passage at 

"As for this kind of books," (says he, speaking 
of those which we write, not with the authority of 
commanding, but only from the design of exercising 
ourselves to benefit others,) " we are so to read them, 
as not bound necessarily to believe them, but having 
the liberty left us of judging of what we read. Yet 
notwithstanding, that we may not quite exclude these 
books, and deprive posterity of the most profitable 
labour of exercising their language and style, in the 
handling and treating of difficult questions; we make 
a distinction between these books of later writers, and 
the excellency of the canonical authority of the Old 
and New Testament; which having been confirmed 
in the Apostles' time, has since, by the bishops who 
succeeded them, and the churches which have been 
propagated throughout the world, been placed as it 
were upon a high throne, to which every faithful and 
godly understanding must be subject. And if we 
chance here to meet with any thing that troubles us, 
and seems absurd, we must not say that the author of 
the book was ignorant of the truth, but rather that 
either our copy is false, or the interpreter is mistaken 

rum, de quorum scriptis, quod omni errore careant, dubitare nefa- 
rium est. — August, ep. ad Hier. qua est 19. t. 2. fol. 14. ed. Paris. 
1579, et inter Hier. Op. 97. t. 2. p. 551. 

* Quanquam, sicut paulo ante dixi, tantummodo Scripturis canoni- 
cis hanc ingenuam debeam servitutem, qua eas solas ita sequar, ut 
eonscriptores earum nihil in eis omnind errasse, nihil fallaciter po- 
suisse non dubitem. — Id. ibid. 


in the sense of the place, or else that we do not under- 
stand him aright. 

" As for the writings of those other authors who 
have come after them, the number whereof is almost 
infinite, though coming very far short of this most 
sacred excellency of the canonical Scriptures, a man 
may sometimes find in them the very same truth, 
though not of equal authority. Therefore if by chance 
we here meet with such things as seem contrary to 
the truth, only, perhaps, because we do not under- 
stand them, we have our liberty, either in reading or 
hearing the same, to approve of what we like, and to 
reject that which we conceive not to be right. So 
that unless all such passages be made good, either by 
some certain reason, or else by the canonical autho- 
rity of the Scriptures; and it be made to appear, that 
what is asserted either really is, or else at least might 
have been; he that shall reject or not assent to the 
same, ought not in any wise to be reprehended."* 

Thus far have we Augustine testifying on our side, 
(as well here, as in many other places, which would 
be too long to be inserted here,t) that those opinions 

* Quod genus literarum, non cum credendi necessitate, sed cum 
judicandi libertate legendum est. Cui tamen ne intercluderetur locus, 
et adimeretur posteris ad difficiles quaestiones tractandas atque ver- 
sandas, linguae ac styli saluberrimus labor, distinctaest a posteriorum 
libris excellentia canonical auctoritatis Veteris et Novi Testamenti; 
quae Apostolorum confirmata temporibus, per successiones episcopo- 
rum, et propagationes ecclesiarum, tanquam in sede quadam sublimiter 
constituta est, cui serviat omnis fidelis et pius intellectus. Ibi si 
quid velut absurdum moverit, non licet dicere, auctor hujus libri non 
tenuit veritatem: sed, aut codex mendosus est, aut interpres erravit, 
aut tu non intelligis. In opusculis autem posteriorum, quae libris 
innumerabilibus continentur, sed nullo modo illi sacratissimae canoni- 
carum JScripturarum excellentiae eoaequantur, etiam inquibuscumque 
eorum invenitur eadem Veritas, longe tamen est impar auctoritas. 
Itaque in eis, si qua forte propterea dissonare putantur a vero, quia 
non ut dicta sunt, intelliguntur, tamen liberum ibi habet lector, audi- 
tor ve judicium quo vel approbet quod placuerit, vel improbet quod 
offenderit : et ideo cuncta ejusmodi, nisi vel certa ratione, vel ex ilia 
canonica auctoritate defendantur, ut demonstretur sive omnino ita 
esse, sive fieri potuisse, quod vel disputatur ibi, vel narratum est, si 
cui displicuerit, aut credere noluerit, non reprehenditur. — August. 
Ep. ad Hier. 1. 11, contr. Faust, c. 5. 

t August, ep. ad Hier. t. 2. Epist. 43, ep. Ill, t. 3, 1. 1, 3, de Tri- 
nit c. 2, 1. 3, praefat. 1. 5, c. 1. 1. 7, 1. 2, contr. Crescon. Gram. c. 31, et 


which we find delivered by the Fathers in their wri- 
tings, are grounded not upon their bare authority but 
upon their reasons ; and that they bind not our belief 
otherwise than so far as they are consonant to Scrip- 
ture or reason; and that they ought to be examined 
by both, as proceeding from persons that are not in- 

Hence it appears, that the course which is at this 
day pursued is not sufficient for the demonstration of 
the truth. For suppose we are in doubt what is the 
sense and meaning of a certain passage in Scripture. 
You will immediately have the judgment of a Father 
brought upon the said passage, quite contrary to the 
rule which Augustine gives us, who would have us 
examine the Fathers by the Scriptures, and not the 
Scriptures by the Fathers. Certainly, according to 
the judgment of this Father, the Protestant, though a 
passage as clear and express as any of the canons of 
the council of Trent, should be brought against him, 
out of any of the Fathers, ought not to be blamed, 
if he should answer, that he cannot by any means 
assent to it, unless the truth of it be first proved, 
either by some certain reason, or else by the autho- 
rity of the canonical Scriptures; and that then, and 
not till then, would he be ready to assent to it. 

Thus, according to this account, we are to allege, 
not the names of, but the reasons given in, books ; to 
take notice, not of the quality of their authors, but of 
the solidity of their proofs; to consider what it is they 
give us ; and not the face or hand of him that gives 
it us; and, in a word, to reduce the dispute from per- 
sons to things. 

Jerome also seems to commend to us this method 
of proceeding, where, in the preface to his second 
Commentary upon Hosea, he has these words: "Then 
(that is, after the authors of books are once departed 
this life) we judge of their worth and parts only, not 
considering at all the dignity of their name : and the 

c. 32, 1. 2, de Bapt. contr. Don. c. 3, 1. 3, de Peccat. mer. et rem. c. 7, 
c. 1, de Nat. et grat. c. 61, 1. 4, contr. du. ep. Pelag. c. 8, 1. 1, contr. 
Julian, c. 2, 1. de bon. persever. c. 21. 


reader has regard only to what he reads, and not to 
the author of the work. So that whether he were a 
bishop or a layman, a general and a lord, or a com- 
mon soldier and a servant; whether he lie in purple 
and silk, or in the vilest and coarest rags, he shall be 
judged, not according to his degree of honour, but ac- 
cording to the merit and worth of his works."* Now 
he here speaks either of matter of right or of fact : and 
his meaning is, that either we ought to take this course 
in our judgments, or else it is a plain affirmation, that 
it is the practice of the world so to do. If his words 
are to be taken in the first sense, he then clearly takes 
away all authority from the bare names of writers, 
and so would have us to consider the quality only, 
and weight of their writings; that is to say, their rea- 
sons, and the force of the arguments they use. If we 
understand him in the second sense, he seems not to 
speak the truth ; it being evident, that the ordinary 
course of the world is, to be more led by the titles and 
names of books, than by the matter therein contained. 
Suppose, however, that this was Jerome's meaning; 
we may notwithstanding very safely believe, that he 
approves of the said course; forasmuch as having 
this occasion of speaking of it, he does not at all re- 
prehend it. If therefore, reader, thou hast any wish 
to rely on his judgment, lay aside the names of Augus- 
tine and of Jerome, of Chrysostom and of Cyril; and 
forget for this once the rochet of the first, and the 
chair of the second, together with the patriarchal robe 
of the two last: and observe what they say, and not 
what they were ; the ground and reason of their opin- 
ions ; and not the dignity of their persons. 

But that which excites my wonder is, that some of 
those who have been the most conversant in antiquity 
should trouble themselves with filling their books with 
declamatory expressions in praise of the authors they 

* Tunc sine nominum dignitate, sola judicantur ingenia; nee con- 
siderate qui lecturus est, cujus, sed quale sit quod lecturus est, sive 
sit episcopus, sive sit laicus, imperator et dominus, miles et servus, 
aut in purpura et serico, aut vilissimo panno jaceat, non honorum 
diversitate, sed operum merito judicabitur. — Hier. Com. 2, in Oseam, 



produce,* not forbearing to recount the nobleness of 
their extraction, the choiceness of their education, the 
splendour of their talents, the eminency of their see, 
and the greatness of their state. This manner of 
writing may perhaps suit well enough with the rules 
of rhetoric : but certain I am that it ill agrees with 
Jerome's advice, which we gave a little before. 

Let us now observe, out of some other more clear 
and express passages of his, what the judgment of 
this great Aristarchus, and censor of antiquity, was on 
this point. " I know (says he, writing to Theophilus 
patriarch of Alexandria) that I place the Apostles in 
a distinct rank from all other writers : for as for them, 
they always speak truth: but as for those other, they 
err sometimes, like men, as they were."t 

What could he have said more expressly, in con- 
firmation of our assertion before laid down? * There 
are others (says he,) both Greeks and Latins, who 
have erred also in points of faith; whose names I 
need not here notice, lest it might seem to defend 
Origen by the errors of others rather than by his own 

How then can we confide in them, unless we ex- 
amine their opinions by their reasons? " I shall (says 
the same author) read Origen as I read others; because 
I find he has erred in like manner as they have done."§ 

In another place, speaking in general of ecclesi- 
astical writers; that is, of those whom we now call 
Fathers, and of the faults and errors that are found 
in their books, he says : " It may be that they have 
erred out of mere ignorance, or else that they wrote 
in some other sense than we understand them ; or that 
their writings have been gradually corrupted, through 
the ignorance of the transcribers; or else before the 

* Card. Perron, of the Eucharist. Aut. 20. 

+ Scio me aliter habere Apostolos ; aliter reliquos tractatores : illos 
semper vera dicere ; istos in quibusdam, ut homines, errare. — Hier. 
ep. 62. ad Theoph. Alex. 

X Erraverunt in fide alii, tarn Grasci quam Latini, quorum non ne- 
cesse est proferre nomina, ne videamur eum, non sui merito sed 
aliorum errore, defendere. — Id. ep. 65. ad Pamm. et Oceanum. 

§ Sic eum legam, ut caeteros ; quia sic erravit, ut ceteri. — Id. ibid. 


appearing of that southern devil Arius, in Alexandria, 
they let some things fall from them innocently, and 
not so warily as they might have done ; and such as 
can hardly escape the cavils of wrangling spirits."* 
Which passage of his, is a very excellent and remark- 
able one ; and contains in it a brief yet clear and full 
justification of the greatest part of what we have hittK 
erto advanced in this discourse. 

Do but think therefore with how much circumspec- 
tion we are to read and to weigh these authors ; and 
how careful we ought to be in examining in their 
books, whether there be not either some fault com- 
mitted by the transcriber, or some obscurity in the 
expression, or some negligence in the conception, or 
lastly, some error in the proposition. 

In another place, having set down the opinions of 
several authors, respecting a certain question that had 
been proposed to him, that thus the reader might make 
choice of the best, Jerome gives this reason for so 
doing; "Because (says he) we ought not, according 
to the example of Pythagoras's scholars, to have an 
eye to the prejudged opinion of the proposer, but 
rather the reason of the thing proposed:"! which 
words of his sufficiently confirm the sense we have 
formerly given of that passage of his in the Preface 
to his second commentary upon Hosea. He presently 
afterwards adds; "My purpose is to read the ancients; 
to prove all things, and to hold fast that which is 
good; and not to depart from the faith of the Catholic 
Church:" J according to the rule which he has com- 
mended to us, in his seventy-sixth epistle, where he 
advises us "to read Origen, Tertullian, Novatus, Arno- 

* Fieri enim potest, ut vel simpliciter erraverint, vel alio sensu 
scripserint, vel a librariis imperitis eorum paulatim scripta corrupta 
sint ; vel cert§ antequam in Alexandria quasi daemonium meridianum 
Arius nasceretur, innocenter quaedam, et minus caute loquuti sint, et 
quae non possint perversorum hominum calumniam declinare. — Hier. 
I. 2. Apol. contra Ruff, 

f Nee juxta Pythagorae discipulos, prejudicata doctoris opinio, sed 
doctrinae ratio ponderanda est. — Id. Ep. 15. 2. 

X Meum propositum est, antiquos legere, probare singula, retinere 
quae bona sunt, et a fide Ecclesiae Catholicae non recedere. — Id. ibid. 


bius, Apollinarius, and others of the ecclesiastical wri- 
ters; but with this caution, that we should make 
choice of that which is good, but take heed of embra- 
cing that which is not so; according to the apostle, 
who bids us prove all things, but hold fast only that 
which is good."* 

This is the course Jerome constantly takes, censur- 
ing with the greatest liberty the opinions and exposi- 
tions of all those who went before him. He gives you 
freely his judgment of every one of them; affirming 
" That Cyprian scarcely touched the Scripture at all : 
that Victorinus was not able to express his own con- 
ceptions: that Lactantius is not so happy in his en- 
deavours to prove our religion, as he is in overthrow- 
ing that of others : that Arnobius is very uneven and 
confused, and too luxuriant: that Hilary is too swell- 
ing, and encumbered with too long periods."t 

I shall not here lay before you what he says of 
Origen, Theodoras, Apollinaris, and of the Chiliasts ; 
whose professed enemy he has declared himself, and 
whom he reproves very sharply upon all occasions, 
whenever they come in his way; and yet he con- 
fesses them all to have been men of very great parts ; 
giving even Origen himself, who is the most dan- 
gerous writer of them all, this testimony, "That 
none but the ignorant can deny but that, next to the 
Apostles, he was one of the greatest masters of the 

But to speak only of those whose names have 

* Ego Origenem propter eruditionem sic interdum legcndum arbi- 
tror, quomodo Tertullianum, Novatum, Arnobium, Apollinarium, et 
nonnullos ecclcsiasticos scriptores, Graecos pariter, et Latinos, ut bona 
eorum eligamus, vitemusque contraria; juxta apostolum dicentem, 
Omnia probate; quod bonum est tenete. — Id. Ep, 76. ad Tranquil. 

t Cyprianus de scripturis divinis nequaquam disseruit. Inclyto 
Victorinus martyrio coronatus, quod intelligit eloqui non potest. Lac- 
tantius utinam tarn nostra confirmare potuisset, quam facile aliena 
destruxit. Arnobius inaequalis et nimius est, et absque opens sui 
partitione confusus. Sanctus Hilarius Gallicano cothurno attollitur, 
et longis interdum periodis involvitur, et a lectione simpliciorum fra- 
trum procul est. — Hier. ep. 13. ad Paulin. 

t Quern (Origenem) post apostolos ecclesiarum magistrum nemo 
nisi imperitus negat. — Hier. Prcefat. in lib. de Norn* Hebr. 


never been cried down in the Church, do but mark 
how he deals with Rheticius of Autun, an ecclesiasti- 
cal author: "There are (says he) an infinite number 
of things in his Commentaries, which in my judgment 
appear very mean and poor:"* and a little after; " He 
seems to have had so ill an opinion of others, as to 
have a conceit that no man was able to judge of his 
faults."! He takes the same liberty also, in rejecting 
their opinions and expositions; and sometimes not 
without passing upon them some smart ridicule. He 
maintains the truth of the Hebrew text of the Old 
Testament, and finds an infinite number of faults in 
the translation of the Seventy, against almost the 
general consent, not only of the more ancient writers, 
but also of those too who lived in his own time, who 
all esteemed it as a divine production. He scoffs at 
the conceit of those men, who believed that the seventy 
interpreters, being placed separately in seventy dis- 
tinct cells, were inspired from above, in the transla- 
tion of the Bible. J " Let them keep, (says he, speak- 
ing of his own backbiters by way of scorn,) with all 
my heart, in the seventy cells of the Alexandrian 
Pharos, for fear they should lose the sails of their 
ships, and be forced to bewail the loss of their cord- 

As for their expositions, he refuses them openly 
whenever they do not please him. Thus does he find 
fault with the exposition which is given by the great- 
est part of the Fathers, of the word Israel; which 
they will have to signify, a man seeing God: " Not- 
withstanding that those who interpret it thus, are 
persons of very great authority and eloquence, and 
whose very shadow is sufficient to bear us down: 

* Innumerabilia sunt, quse in illius mihi Commentariis sordere visa 
sunt. — Id. ep. 133, ad Marcel, 

+ Sed tam male videtur existimasse de cseteris, ut nemo possit de 
ejus erroribus judicare. — Id. ibid. 

X Nescio quis primus auctor septuaginta cellulas Alexandria? men- 
dacio suo extruxerit. — Hier. Prafat. in Pentateuc. ad Desid. 

§ Habitentque in septuaginta cellulis Alexandrini Phari, ne vela 
perdant de navibus, et funium detrimenta suspirent. — Id. Comm. 10. 
in Ezech. 


yet (says he) we cannot but choose to follow the au- 
thority of the Scriptures, and of the angel, and of 
God, who gave this name of Israel, rather than the 
power of any secular eloquence, however great |it 
may be."* And in his 146th epistle, written to Pope 
Damasus, he says : " That there are some who, not 
considering the text, conceive superstitiously rather 
than truly, that these words in the beginning of the 
44th Psalm, * Eruetavit cor meum verbum bonum, 9 
are spoken in the person of the Father. "t Yet the 
greatest part of those who lived in the time of Arius, 
and a little after him, understood these words in the 
same sense. 

It was likewise their opinion, almost without ex- 
ception, that Adam was buried upon Mount Calvary, 
and in the very same place where our Saviour Christ 
was crucified. Yet Jerome rejects this opinion: J and 
which is more, he makes himself merry with it, with- 
out any scruple at all. So likewise there were some 
among the afore-named ancient Fathers, who out of 
a pious affection which they bore to Peter, maintain- 
ed that he denied not God, but man,§ and that the 
sense of the words of his denial, is, " I know him not 
to be a man, for I know that he is God." " The in- 
telligent reader (says the same Jerome) will easily 
perceive how idle and frivolous a thing this is, to ac- 
cuse our Saviour as guilty of falsehood, by excusing 
his Apostle. For if Peter did not deny him, our Sa- 
viour must then necessarily have spoken falsely, when 
he said unto him, * Verily I say unto thee/ " &c.|| He 

* Quamvis igitur grandis auctoritatis sint, et eloquentiae, et ipso- 
rum umbra nos opprimat, qui, Israel, virum, sive mentem videntem 
Deum, transtulerunt; nos magis Scripturre, et angeli et Dei, qui 
ipsum Israel vocavit, auctoritate ducimur, quam cujuslibet eloquen- 
tiae saecularis. — Hier, Tradit, Hebr, 

t Licet quidam superstitiose magis, quam vere, considerantes tex- 
tum psalmi, ex Patris persona arbitrentur hasc intelligi. — Id. ep. 146, 
ad Damas, 

X Hier. in loc. Hebr. Euseb. et Com. 4. in Matth. 

§ Hilar, in Matth.Can. 31. 

|| Hoc qn&m frivolum sit, prudens lector intelligit. Sic defendunt 
Apostolum, ut Deum mendacii reum faciant, &c. — Hier. Com. 4. in 
Mat. in c. 26. 


takes the same liberty also in reprehending Ambrose, 
who understands by Gog, spoken of in the Prophet 
Ezekiel, the nation of the Goths* Neither do those 
other Fathers escape his lash, who indulging too much 
in allegories, take Bosra in Isaiah for the flesh; where- 
as it signifies afortressA 

I might here produce many similar passages, but 
these few may suffice : for who sees not by this time 
that these holy men considered not the Fathers, who 
went before them, as judges or arbitrators on the opin- 
ions of the Church; and that they did not receive 
their testimonies and depositions as oracles, but re- 
served the right which Augustine allows to every 
man, of examining them by reason, and the Scrip- 
ture? Neither are we to take any notice at all of 
Jerome, when he seems to except out of this number 
the writings of Athanasius, and of Hilary ; writing to 
Laeta, and telling her, that her daughter Paula might 
walk securely, and with firm footing, by the epistles 
of the one, and the books of the other ; and therefore 
he counsels her " to take delight in these men's wri- 
tings; inasmuch as in their books the piety of faith 
wavers not: and as for all other authors, she may 
read them; but rather to pass her judgment upon 
them, than to follow them." % For first of all, though 
perhaps there should be some work of a Father that 
should have no error in it, (as questionless there are 
many such,) yet this would not render the authority 
of the same infallible. How many such books are 
there, even of the moderns, wherein neither the one 
party nor the other has been able to discover the least 
error in matter of faith? And yet I suppose no man 
will at once conclude from hence, that we ought to 
admit of these authors as judges of our faith. A man 
may there find perhaps the same truth, (as Augustine 

* Id. Com. xi. in Ezech. in Praefat. Ambros. 1. 2, de fid. ad Grat 

t Hier. in Esai. Comm. x. 

X Illorum tractatibus, illorum delectetur ingeniis, in quorum libris 
pietas fidei non vacillat. Caeteros sic legat, ut magis judicet, quam 
sequatur. — Hier, Ep. 7. ad L<et. 


says a little before :) but it will not be of equal autho- 
rity with that of the canonical books. Besides, as 
Cardinal Baronius* has observed, this last passage of 
Jerome ought to be understood only in the point 
touching the Holy Trinity; concerning which there 
were at that time great disputes between the Catho- 
lics and the Arians; for otherwise, if his words be 
taken in a general sense, they will be found to be 
false, as to Hilary, who had his failings in some cer- 
tain things, as we shall see hereafter. In a word, 
although Jerome were to be understood as speaking 
in a general sense, (as his words indeed seem to bear,) 
yet might the same thing possibly happen to him here, 
which he has observed has oftentimes befallen others ; 
namely to be mistaken in his judgment. For we are 
not to imagine, that he would have us entertain a 
greater opinion of him, than he himself has of other 
men. Augustine told him, as we have before shown, 
that he did not believe he expected that men should 
judge otherwise of him; and I suppose we may 
very safely adhere to Augustine's judgment, and be- 
lieve with him that Jerome had never any intention 
that we should receive ah his positions as infallible 
truths : but rather that he would have us to read and 
examine his writings with the g&me freedom that we 
do those of other men. 

If we have no wish to take Augustine's word in 
these particulars, let us yet receive Jerome's: who in 
his second commentary upon the prophet Habakkuk 
says : " And thus have I briefly delivered to you my 
opinion ; but if any one produce that which is more ex- 
act and true, take his exposition rather than mine."t 
So likewise upon the prophet Zephaniah he says, 
"We have now done our utmost endeavour, in giv- 
ing an allegorical exposition of the text; but if any 
other can bring that which is more probable and 
agreeable to reason than that which we have de- 

* Baron. Annal. an. 369, Sect. 24. 

t Si quis autem his sagaciora et veriora repererit, ill! magis ex- 
planation! prsebete consensum. — Hier. Com. 2. in Abac. 


livered, let the reader be guided by his authority 
rather than by ours."* And in another place he 
speaks to the same purpose in these words: "This 
we have written according to the utmost of our poor 
ability, and have given a short sketch of the divers 
opinions, both of our own men and of the Jews; yet 
if any man can give me a better and truer account of 
these things, I shall be very ready to embrace them."t 

Is this now, I would fain ask, to bind up our tongues 
and our belief, so that we should have no further lib- 
erty of refusing what he has once laid down before 
us, or of searching into the reasons and grounds of 
his opinions? No, let us rather make use of that lib- 
erty which they all allow us ; let us hearken to them, 
but (as they themselves advise us) when what they 
deliver is grounded upon reason, and upon the Scrip- 
tures. If they had not made use of this caution, in 
the reading of those authors who went before them, 
the Christian faith had now been altogether replete 
with the dreams of an Origen, or an Apollinaris, or 
some other similar authors. But neither the fame of 
their learning nor yet the resplendency of their holy 
life, which no man can deny to have shone forth in 
these primitive Fathers, were able so to dazzle the 
eyes of those that came after them, that they could 
not distinguish between what was sound and true in 
their writings, and what was trivial and false. Let 
not therefore the excellency of those who came after 
them hinder us, either from passing by, or even reject- 
ing their opinions, when we find them ill founded. 

They confess themselves that this may very possi- 
bly be : we should therefore be left utterly inexcusa- 
ble, if after this their so charitable admonition, we 
should still believe all they say, without examining 
any thing. " I take it for a favour, (says Ambrose) 

* Si quis autem magis verisimilia, et habentia rationem, quam a 
nobis sunt disserta, repererit, illius magis lector auctoritate ducatur. — 
Id. in Sophon. 

t Haec ut quivimus, ut vires ingenioli nostri ferre potuerunt, lo- 
quuti sumns, et Hebrseorum et nostrorum varias opiniones breviter 
perstringentes. Si quis melius, imo verius dixerit; et nos libenter 
melioribus acquiescemus. — Hier. Com. in Zach. 


when any one that reads my writings, gives me an 
account of what doubts he there meets with. First 
of all, because I may be deceived in those very things 
which I know. And besides, many things escape us; 
and some things sound otherwise to some than per- 
haps they do to me."* 

I shall here further desire the reader to take notice, 
how careful the ancients were in advising those who 
lived in their own time to take a strict examination 
of their words: as for example, where Origen advises, 
" That his auditors should prove whatever he deliv- 
ered, and that they should be attentive, and receive 
the grace of the Spirit from whom proceeds the dis- 
cerning of spirits, that thus, as good bankers, they 
might diligently observe when their pastor deceives 
them ; and when he preaches to them that which is 
pious and true."t Cyril likewise, in his fourth cate- 
chesis, has these words: "Believe me not (says he) 
in whatsoever I shall simply deliver, unless thou find 
the things which I shall speak demonstrated out of 
the Holy Scriptures. For the conservation and estab- 
lishment of our faith, is not grounded upon the elo- 
quence of language, but rather upon the proofs that 
are brought out of the Divine Scriptures.'^ 

If therefore they would not have those who heard 
them speak viva voce, to believe them in any thing, 
unless they had demonstrated the truth of it out of the 
Scriptures, how much less would they have us now 
receive, without this demonstration, those opinions 
which we meet with in their books, which are not 

* Ego enim beneficio annumero, siquis mea legens scripta dicat 
mihi, quo videatur moveri. Primum, quia et in iis quae scio, falli 
possum. Multa autem praetereunt, multa quibusdam aliter sonant. — 
Ambros. I. 7, Ep, 47. 

t Quffiso audientes, ut diligenter attendant, et accipiant gratiam 
Spiritus, de qua dictum est discretio spirituum; ut probati Trape- 
zitae facti, diligenter observent, quando falsus sim magister, quando 
verd praedicem, quae sunt pietatis ac veritatis. — Orig. Horn, 2, in 

t M»Jg \/j-Qi Ta> Tuvrct trot xeyovrt a7r\ax Trtrrwinic, \otv mv catoiu^N t&7 
KATctyyiwe/uivcov &7ro to>v Qeianr {*» \ctfi»; ypzqoov* » (ratafUcL yxpauw t»? irivrtnc 
tifjLW ovK \f> tupto-tkcyus, &X\& i% CL7rGSit%za>y Tay Quay i<rrt yf>x<puv»—Cyxil» 
Hieros. Cateches. 4. 


only mute, but corrupted also, and altered so much, 
as we have formerly shown? 

Certainly, when I see these holy men on one side 
declaring that they are men subject to errors; and 
that therefore we ought to consider and examine what 
they deliver, and not take it all as oracular: and then 
on the other side, bring before my eyes these worthy 
maxims of the ages following: viz. "That their doc- 
trine is the law of the Church Universal ;" and "That 
we are bound to follow it, not only according to the 
sense, but according to the bare words also : and that 
we are bound to hold all that they have written, even 
to the least tittle ;"* — this representation, I say, makes 
me call to mind the history of Paul and Barnabas, to 
whom the Lycaonians would needs render divine ho- 
nour, notwithstanding all the resistance these holy 
men were able to make ; who could not forbear to 
rend their garments, through indignation, at seeing 
that service paid to themselves which was due to the 
Divine Majesty alone; running in amongst them, and 
crying out aloud — "Sirs, why do ye these things? 
we also are men of like passions with you." For 
seeing that there is none but God, whose word is cer^ 
tainly and necessarily true : and seeing that, on the 
other side, the word, whereon we ground and build 
our faith, ought to be such; who sees not, that it is 
the same as investing man with the glory which is 
due to God alone, and placing him in a manner in 
his seat, if we make His word the rule and founda- 
tion of our faith, and the Judge of our differences con- 
cerning it? 

I am therefore firmly of opinion, that if these holy 
men could now behold from their blessed mansions, 
where they now live in bliss on high with their Lord 
and Saviour, what things are acted here below, they 
would be very much offended at this false honour, 
which men confer upon them much against their wills; 

* *Hv (Trctnpcov) rat foypara vc/uoc m kxQcmkh KzQerrnKev Exxtoo-t*. 
Turn; Tiara, yap dvaynn juh /ucvov x*«r' svvotxv rote rm aytav nartpw limrQai 
foy party, dxxa kai rate abrate htuvats Kt^jjua-Qat qavzte. — Serg. Patr. 
Constant Mon. in ep. ad Cyr. Concil. VI. 


and would take it as a very great injury offered them; 
seeing that they cannot receive this honour, but to the 
prejudice and diminution of the glory of their Re- 
deemer; whom they love a thousand times more than 
themselves. Or if, from out of their sepulchres, where 
their mortal remains are now laid up, they could but 
make us hear their sacred voice, they would (I am 
very confident) most sharply reprove us for this abuse, 
and would cry out, in the words of Paul, " Sirs, why 
do ye these things? we also were men of like passions 
with you." 

Yet what need is there, either of ransacking their 
sepulchres, or of calling down their spirits from hea- 
ven ; seeing that their voice resoundeth loud enough, 
and is heard so plainly in those very books of theirs, 
which we imprudently place in that seat, which is 
only due to the word of God? We have heard what 
the judgment was of Augustine and of Jerome, (the 
two most eminent persons in the western Church,) on 
this particular : let us not then be afraid, having such 
examples to follow, to speak freely our opinions. But 
now, before we go any further, I conceive it will be 
necessary, that we answer an objection that may be 
brought against us, which is, that Athanasius, Cyril, 
and Augustine himself also, frequently cite the Fa- 

Besides what some have observed, that the Fathers 
seldom entered into these lists, but when they were 
provoked by their adversaries; I add further, that 
when we maintain that the authority of the Fathers 
is not a sufficient medium, to prove an article of faith 
by; we do not thereby forbid either the reading or the 
citing of them. The Fathers often quote the writings 
of the learned Heathens, the oracles of the Sibyls, 
and passages out of the Apocryphal books. Did they 
therefore think that these books were of sufficient 
authority to ground an article of faith upon? God 
forbid we should entertain so ill an opinion of them. 
Their faith was grounded upon the word of God: 
yet to evidence the truth more fully, they search- 
ed into human records, and by this inquiry made it 


appear that the light of the truth, revealed unto them, 
had in some degree shot its beams even into the 
schools of men, dark and obscure as they were. If 
they had produced no other but human authority, 
they would never have been able to have brought 
over any one person to the faith. But after they had 
derived from Divine revelation, the matter of our 
faith, it was very wisely done of them, in the next 
place, to prove, not the truth, but the clearness of it, 
by these little sparks which shot forth their light in 
the spirits of men. For the like reason did Augus- 
tine, Athanasius, Cyril, and many others of them, 
make use of allegations out of the Fathers. For after 
they had grounded, upon the authority of Divine reve- 
lation, the necessity and efficacy of grace, the consub- 
stantiality of the Son with the Father, and the union 
of the two natures in Christ; they then began to pro- 
duce several passages out of those learned men who 
had lived before them; to evince to the world that 
this truth was so clear in the word of God, that all 
who preceded them had both seen and acknowledged 
the same : a plan both pleasing and profitable. For 
what can more delight a faithful heart, than to find 
that the most eminent persons in the Church, cele- 
brated for their holiness and learning, had long since 
held the same opinions as regards our Saviour Jesus 
Christ and his grace, that we hold at this day? 

Yet it does not hence follow, that if these holy men 
had met with these articles of our faith only in the 
writings of their predecessors, without finding any 
foundation for them in the canonical Scriptures, they 
would notwithstanding firmly have believed and em- 
braced them, thus contenting themselves with the 
bare authority of their predecessors. Augustine pro- 
fesses plainly, that in such a case they might better 
have rejected them, and not be blamed for so doing, 
than have received them, unless they would incur the 
imputation of being credulous. For to believe any 
thing without reason is mere credulity : and he fur- 
ther affirms, that where men speak without either 
Scripture or reason, their bare authority is not suffi- 


cient to oblige us to believe what they propose to 
us. Hence it thus appears, that human testimonies 
are adduced, not to prove the truth of the faith, but 
only to show the evidence of it after it is once well 

Now the question is not concerning the evidence of 
the articles believed and taught by the Church of 
Rome; it lies upon them to prove even the very 
ground and foundation of them. Show me, there- 
fore, (will a Protestant here say,) either out of some 
text of Scripture, or else by some evident reason, that 
there is any such place as Purgatory, and that the 
Eucharist is not bread; and that the Pope is the mon- 
arch and head of the Church Universal; and then I 
shall be very glad to try, if for our greater comfort we 
may be able to find, in the authors of the third or 
fourth century, these truths embraced by the Fathers 
of those times. 

But to begin with these, is to invert the natural 
order of things. We ought first to be assured that 
the thing is, before we make inquiry whether it has 
been believed or not. For to what purpose is it to 
find that the ancients believed it, unless we find withal 
in their writings some reason of this their belief? And 
again, on the other side, what harm is it to us to be 
ignorant whether antiquity believed it or not, so long 
as we know that the thing is? And whereas there 
are some who, to establish the supreme authority of 
the Fathers, allege the counsel which Sisinnius, a 
Novatian, and Agellius his bishop, gave of old to 
Nectarius archbishop of Constantinople,* and by him 
to Theodosius the emperor, which was, that they 
should demand of the Arians, whether or not they 
would stand to what the Fathers who died before the 
breaking forth of their heresy, had delivered on the 
point disputed between them; this is hardly worth 
our consideration; for, this was a trick only, devised 
by a subtle head, and which is worse, by a schismatic, 
and consequently to be suspected as a captious pro- 
posal, purposely made to entrap the adverse party; 

* Sozomen. 1. 7. c. 12. Hist. Eccles. 


rather than any free and ingenuous way of proceed- 

If this manner of proceeding had been right and 
proper, how came it to pass, that so many Catholic 
Bishops never thought of it ? How came it to pass, 
that they were so ignorant of the weapons wherewith 
the enemies of the Church were to be encountered? 
How happened it that it should be proposed only by 
a young man, and he a schismatic too ? And if it 
were approved of, as right and good counsel, why 
did Gregory Nazianzen, Basil, and so many others of 
the Fathers who wrote in that age against the Arians, 
deal with them almost entirely by arguments from 
the Scriptures? Certainly those holy men, indepen- 
dent of their Christian candour, which obliged them to 
this mode of proceeding, took a very wise course in 
so doing. For if this controversy had been to be de- 
cided by the authority of human Avriters, I know not 
how any man should have been able to make good 
what this conceited trifler so confidently affirms in the 
place just cited; namely, " That none of the ancients 
ever said that the co-eternal Son of God had any be- 
ginning of his generation;"* considering those many 
harsh expressions that we yet at this day meet with 
on this particular, in the books of the first Fathers : 
which is the reason also why the Arians alleged their 
testimonies, as we see they do in the books of Atha- 
nasius, Hilary, and others of the ancients who wrote 
against them. But why need we insist so long upon 
a story which is rejected by cardinal Baronius, as 
being an idle tale devised by Sozomen, who was a 
Novatiaji, in support of his own schism.t 

The counsel of one Vincentius of Lerins, which he 
gives us in a certain little discourse of his very highly 
praised by Gennadius,J is accounted by many men 
much more worthy of our consideration. For — having 
first told us, that he speaks not of any authors, " save 
only of such who, having piously, wisely, and con- 

* Et> yxp Hcf a *g c< 7rot\3Liot o-vvxiftov to> 7rctrf>i tcv v\cv eupcvrx, cbx. gTOX- 
/uwv&v U7ruv U rives tyx»$ tuv yivertv abrov z%uv. — Sozomen. loc. citat. 
t Baron. Annal. Ann. 383. X Gennad. in Catal. inter Op. Hieron. 


stantly lived, taught, and persevered in the Catholic 
faith and communion, obtained the favour at length, 
either to die faithfully in Christ, or else to suffer mar- 
tyrdom happily for Christ's sake;" — he further adds, 
"that we are to receive, as certain and definitive, 
whatsoever all the aforesaid authors or at least the 
greatest part of them, have clearly, frequently, and 
constantly affirmed, with an unanimous consent, re- 
ceiving, retaining, and delivering it ovej to others, 
making up all of them, as it were, but one common 
and unanimous council of doctors." * 

But this passage is so far from establishing the su- 
preme authority, which some would attribute to the 
Fathers in matters of faith, that, on the contrary, I 
meet with something in it that makes me doubt more 
of their authority than I did before. For I find, by 
this man's discourse, that whatsoever his reason was, 
whether good or bad, he clearly appears to have had 
a very great desire to bring all differences in religion 
before the judgment seat of the Fathers; and for this 
purpose, he labours to prove, with the same eager- 
ness and feeling, that their judgment is infallible in 
these cases. But in the mean time I find him so per- 
plexed and troubled in bringing out that which he 
would have, that it appears evident he saw well 
enough that what he desired was not agreeable to 
truth. For he has so qualified his proposition, and 
bound it in with so many limitations, that it is very 
probable, if all these conditions which he here requires 
were any where to be found, we might then safely, 
perhaps, rely upon the writings of the Fathers. But 

* Sed eorum duntaxat Patrum sentential conferendae sunt, qui in 
fide et communione Catholica sancte, sapienter, constanter viventes, 
docentes, et permanentes, vel mori in Christo fideliter, vel occidi pro 
Christo feliciter meruerunt. Quibus tamen hac lege credendum est, 
ut quicquid vel ornnes, vel plures, uno eodemque sensu manifeste, 
frequenter, perseveranter, velut quodam consentiente sibi magistro- 
rum consilio, accipiendo, tenendo, tradendo firmaverint, id pro indu- 
bitato, certo, ratoque habeatur : quicquid vero quamvis ille sanctus et 
doctus, quamvis episcopus, quamvis confessor, et martyr, praeter om- 
nes, aut etiam contra omnes senserit, id inter proprias, et occultas et 
privatas opiniunculas a communis, publicse, et generalis sententiae au- 
thoritate secretum sit. — Vincent, Lirin. Comm. c. 39. — T. 4. Bibl. PP 


then, on the other side, it is so very difficult a matter, 
to meet with such a conjunction of so many several 
qualifications, that we can never be sure of finding 
them all together. 

First of all, for the persons of those men whose tes- 
timonies we allege, he requires that they should be 
such as not only lived, but also taught, and which is 
more, persevered too, not only in the faith but in the 
communion also of the Catholic Church. And then, 
for fear of being surprised, he qualifies his words with 
a restriction of three adverbs, and tells us, that they 
must have lived and taught piously, wisely, and con- 
stantly. But yet this is not all; for besides this, they 
must have either died in Christ or for Christ. So 
that if they lived but did not teach; or if they both 
lived and taught, but did not persevere ; or if they 
lived, taught, and also persevered in the faith, but not 
in the communion; or else in the communion, but not 
in the faith of the Catholic Church; or if they yet lived 
and taught in it piously but not wisely; or, on the 
contrary, wisely but not piously; and if, in the last 
place, after all this, having performed all the particu- 
lars before set down, they did not at last die either in 
Christ or for Christ; they ought not, according to this 
man's rule, to be admitted as witnesses in this case. 
Certainly he might have stopped here, and not have 
gone on still with his modifications as he does, limit- 
ing the number and the words of these witnesses. 
For what Christian ever made scruple of receiving 
the opinions of such a one as had piously, wisely, and 
constantly lived, and taught in the faith and commu- 
nion of the Catholic Church? For you might hence 
very well rest assured, that whatsoever he had de- 
livered was true; and consequently fit to be believed: 
for how could he have taught wisely and constantly 
if he had taught any false doctrine ? All that he here 
promises us therefore is no more but this; that we 
shall be sure not to be deceived, provided that we 
believe no other doctrines but those which are holy 
and true. This promise of his is like that which little 
children are wont to make, when they tell you, that 



you shall never die, if you but eat always. Nor do I 
believe that there is any man in the world so perverse 
and wilful, as not readily to submit his faith to such a 
man, as he assuredly knew to be so qualified, as Vin- 
centius here describes. 

But seeing that it is necessary that we should first 
know the qualifications of a witness before we hear 
him; it follows, in my judgment, that before we do so 
much as hear any of the Fathers, we ought to be first 
assured, that he was so qualified in every particular, 
according to Vincentius's rule before laid down. Now 
I would wish to be informed how it is possible for us 
to know this? Who will assure us, that Athanasius, 
Cyril, or what other Father you please, " lived, taught, 
persevered, and died piously, wisely, and constantly 
in the faith and communion of the Catholic Church?" 
This can never be done without a most exact inquiry 
made, both into their life and doctrines, which is an 
impossible thing, considering the many ages that have 
passed from their times down to ours. But yet sup- 
posing that this were a possible thing, it would never- 
theless be of no use at all as to this author's purpose. 
For he will have us hear the Fathers, to the end that 
we may be by them instructed in the truth. Now that 
we may be rightly informed, whether or not they were 
so qualified as is before required; we ought neces- 
sarily to know first of all what the truth is. For how 
is it otherwise possible that we should be able to judge 
whether they have " taught piously and wisely?" And 
if you were before hand instructed in the truth, what 
need have you then to hear them, and to desire to be 
instructed in it by them? You may indeed make use 
of them for the illustration and confirmation of that 
which you knew before; but you cannot learn any 
truth from which you knew not before. If you under- 
stand the maxim before alleged in another sense, and 
take this wisdom and piety, this faith and communion 
of the Catholic Church therein mentioned for a shadow 
only, and the superficies and outward appearance of 
those things : and for a common and empty opinion, 
grounded merely upon the public voice, and not upon 


an exact knowledge of the thing itself, it will then 
prove to be manifestly false ; those persons who have 
but the outward appearance only, and not the reality 
of these qualities, being no way fit to be admitted as 
witnesses, much less to be received as the supreme 
judges of the articles of the Christian faith. Thus this 
proposition is either impossible, if you understand it 
as the words seem to sound, or else it is false, if you 
take it in a looser sense. The like exceptions may be 
made against those other conditions, which he there 
further requires, on the number and the words of 
these witnesses. For he allows not the force of a law 
to any thing, but what has been delivered either by 
all, or else by the greatest part of them. If by all, 
he here means all the Fathers that have ever been, or 
but the greatest part of them only, he then puts us 
upon an impossibility. For taking the whole number 
of Fathers that have ever been, the greatest and per- 
haps too the best part of them have not written any 
thing at all : and among those that have written, how 
many has time devoured ? and how many have the 
false dealings of men, either wholly suppressed or 
else corrupted? It is therefore evidently impossible 
to know, what the opinions have been, either of all, 
or of the greatest part of the Fathers in this sense. 
And if he restrains this all, and this greatest part, 
to those who appear at this day, either in their own 
books, or in histories and the writings of other men ; 
it will concern us then to inquire, whether or not, by 
all, he means all promiscuously, without distinguish- 
ing them by the several ages in which they lived : or 
else, whether he would have us distinguish them into 
several classes, putting together in the same rank all 
those that lived in one and the same age ; and receiv- 
ing for truth whatsoever we find to have been held 
and confirmed by the greatest part of them. Now 
both these ways agree in one thing, that they render 
the judgment of the Christian faith wholly casual, and 
make it depend upon divers and sundry accidents, 
which have been the cause of the writings of the 
Fathers being either preserved or lost. Suppose that 


Vincentius had established, by this excellent course 
of his, some point or other which had been contro- 
verted: he must have thanked the fire, the water, the 
moths, or the worms for having spared those authors 
which he made use of, and for having consumed all 
those others that wrote in favour of the adverse party : 
for otherwise he would have been a heretic. And if 
we should decide our differences in matters of faith 
after this manner, we should do in a measure as he 
did, who gave judgment upon the suits of law that 
came before him, by the chances he threw with three 

Do but conceive what an endless labour it would 
be, for a man either to go and heap together, and run 
over promiscuously all the authors that ever have 
written; or else to distinguish them into the several 
ages in which they wrote, and to examine them by 
companies. And do but imagine again, what satis- 
faction a man should be able to obtain from hence ; 
and where we should be, in case we should find, (as 
it is possible it may sometimes so happen, as we shall 
show hereafter,) that the sense and judgment of this 
greatest part should prove to be either contrary to, or 
perhaps besides, the sense and meaning either of the 
Scriptures or of the Church. And again, how sense- 
less a thing were it, to make the suffrages of equal 
authority, of persons that are so unequal, in respect 
of their merit, learning, holy life, and integrity : and 
that a Rheticius, whom Jerome censured so sharply 
a little before, should be reckoned equal to Augus- 
tine : or a Philastrius be as good a man as Jerome ? 
There is perhaps among the Fathers one, whose judg- 
ment is of more weight than a hundred others; and 
yet forsooth will this man have us to make our far- 
things and our pence pass for as much as our shil- 
lings and pounds. 

Lastly, what reason in the world is there, that al- 
though perhaps the persons themselves were equal in 
other respects, we should yet make their words also 
of equal force, which are often of very different and 
unequal authority; some of them having been uttered, 


as it were, before the bar, the books having been pro- 
duced, both parties heard, and the whole cause tho- 
roughly examined; and the other perhaps having 
been thrown out by their authors at hap-hazard as it 
were; either in their chamber, or else in discourse 
walking abroad; or else perhaps by the by, while 
they were treating of some other matter? But our 
author here, to prevent in some degree this latter in- 
convenience, requires, that the word of this greatest 
part '; which he will allow to be authoritative, must 
have been uttered by them " clearly, often, and con- 
stantly;" and then, and not till then, does he allow 
them for certain and undoubted truth. And now you 
see he is got into another hold. For I wish to be in- 
formed, how it is possible for us to know whether 
these Fathers whom we thus have called out of their 
graves to give us their judgment on the controversies 
in religion, affirmed those things which we find in 
their writings, clearly, often, and constantly, or not? 
If in this his pretended council of doctors, you will 
not allow the right of suffrage to those, of whom it 
may be doubted that they either expressed them- 
selves obscurely, or gave in their testimonies but sel- 
dom, or but weakly maintained their own opinion; I 
pray you tell me, whom shall we have left at last to 
be the judges in the decision of our present contro- 
versies ? 

As for the Apostles' creed, and the determinations 
of the first four general councils, (which are assented 
to, and approved by all the Protestant party,) I con- 
fess we may, by this way of trial, allow them as com- 
petent judges in these matters. But as for all the rest, 
it is evident, from what has been stated in the First 
Part of this treatise, that w r e can never admit of them, 
if they are thus to be qualified, and to have all the 
afore-mentioned conditions. We may therefore very 
safely conclude, that the expedient here proposed by 
this author is either impossible, or not safe to be re- 
duced to practice ; and I shall therefore rather approve 
of Augustine's judgment, as regards the authority of 
the Fathers. 


I should not have insisted so long upon the exami- 
nation of this proposal, had I not seen it to have been 
in such high esteem with many men, and even with 
some of the learned.* For after Augustine and Je- 
rome have delivered their judgments, it matters not 
much what this man shall have believed to the con- 
trary. Yet before we finish this point, let us a little 
examine this author, both by Augustine's and by his 
own rule before laid down. 

Augustine considers us not bound to believe the 
saying of any author, except he can prove to us the 
truth of it, either by the canonical Scriptures or by 
some probable reason. What text of Scripture, or 
what reason has this man alleged to prove the truth 
of what he has proposed? So that whatever his 
opinion be, he must not take it amiss, if, according to 
the advice and practice of Augustine, we take leave 
to dissent from him: especially considering we have 
so many reasons to reject that which he, without any 
reason given, would have us to receive. 

Thus you see that, according to the judgment of 
Augustine, the saying of this Vincentius of Lerins, 
although you should class him among the most emi- 
nent of the Fathers, does not at all oblige us to give 
our assent to it. And yet you will find that his testi- 
mony would be yet of much less force and weight, if 
you but examine the man by his own rule. For ac- 
cording to him, we are not to hearken to the Fathers, 
except they both lived and taught piously and wisely, 
even to the hour of their death. Who is there now 
that will pass his word for him, that he himself was 
one of this number? Who shall assure us, that he 
was not either a heretic himself, or at least a favourer 
of heretics? For is it not evident enough that he 
favoured the Semi-Pelagians, who at that time in 
Gaul, railed against the memory of Augustine ; and 
who were condemned by the whole Church? Who 
cannot easily see this, by his manner of discourse in 
his Commonitorium tending this way ;t where he 
seems to intimate to us underhand, that Prosper and 

* Perron, Cassander, &c. t Vincent. Lirin. in Comm. 2. c. 43. 


Hilary had unjustly slandered them; and that Pope 
Celestine, who also wrote against them, had been mis- 
informed?* May not he also be strongly suspected 
of having been the author of those " Objections" 
made against Augustine, and refuted by Prosper, 
which are called Objectiones Vincent l ianse, (Vincent's 
Objections.)! The great commendations also which 
are given him by Gennadius, very much confirm this 
suspicion ; J it being clear that this author was of the 
same sect, as appears plainly by the great account he 
makes of Ruffinus, a priest of Aquileia, who was the 
Grand Patriarch of the Pelagians, saying, " that he 
was not the least part of the doctors of the Church;" 
tacitly reproaching Jerome his adversary, and calling 
him, "a malicious slanderer:" and also by the judg- 
ment which he gives of Augustine, who was flagel- 
lum Pelagia?iorum, (the scourge of the Pelagians ;)§ 
passing this insolent censure upon him, "that in speak- 
ing so much, it had happened to him, what the Holy 
Ghost has said by Solomon, That in the multitude of 
words there wanteth not sin."|| 

Thus I cannot sufficiently wonder at the boldness 
of Cardinal du Perron, who when he has any occa- 
sion for quoting this author, usually calls him " St. 
Vincent of Lerins;" thus by a very bad example 
canonizing a person who was strongly suspected to 
have been a heretic.1T Since therefore he was such, 
why should any one think it strange that he should so 
much laud the judgment and opinions of the Fathers, 
as every one knows that the Pelagians and Semi-Pe- 
lagians had the better of it, by citing their authorities; 
and laboured by this means to run down Augustine's 
name ; and all this forsooth, only because the greatest 
part of the Fathers, who lived before Pelagius's time, 
had delivered themselves with less caution than they 
might have done, on those points which were by him 

* Celestinus apud Aug. 1. 2, Contr. Pelag. et Celest. c. 3. 

t Prosper. Resp. ad Object. Vincent. 

X Gennad. in Catal. in Ruff, inter Op. Hieron. 

§ Gennad. ubi supra. || Proverbs x. 19. 

IT Du Perron, en la Repliq. au Roy de la Grande Bret, passim. 


afterwards brought into question; and many times 
too in such strange expressions, as will scarcely be 
reconciled to any orthodox sense? 

Notwithstanding, should we allow this Vincentius 
to have been a person who was thus qualified, and 
to have had all those conditions, which he requires in 
a man, to render him capable of being attended to in 
this particular; what weight, I would ask, ought this 
proposal of his to carry with it, which yet is not found 
any where in the mouth of any of those Fathers who 
preceded him; which is also strongly contradicted both 
by Augustine and Jerome, as we have seen in those 
passages before adduced from them: and which be- 
sides,is full of obscurities and inexplicable ambiguities ? 

Thus, " however learned and holy a man he might 
be ; whether he were a bishop, confessor, or martyr 
(which he was not,) this proposal of his (according to 
his own maxims) ought to be excluded from the au- 
thority of public determinations, and to be accounted 
only as his own particular private opinion."* Let us 
therefore in this business rather follow the judgment 
of Augustine, which is grounded upon evident rea- 
son — a person whose authority (whenever it shall be 
questioned) will be found to be incomparably greater 
than that of Vincentius of Lerins: and let us not 
henceforth give credit to any sayings or opinions of 
the Fathers, save only those, the truth of which they 
shall have made evident to us, either by the canonical 
books of Scripture, or by some probable reason. 


Reason III. — That the Fathers have written in such a manner, as to 
make it clear that when they wrote they had no intention of being 
our authorities in matters of religion; as evinced by examples of 
their mistakes and oversights. 

Whoever takes the pains diligently to consider the 
manner of writing by the Fathers, will not require 

* Vincent. Lirin. Common. 1. c. 39, ubi supra. 


any other testimony for the proof of the above truth. 
For the very form of their writings witnesses clear 
enough, that in the greatest part of them they had no 
intention of delivering such definitive sentences, as 
were to be binding, merely by the single authority of 
the mouth which uttered them : but their purpose was 
rather to communicate to us their own meditations 
on divers points of our religion; leaving us free to 
examine them, and to approve or reject the same, 
according as we saw proper. Thus has Jerome ex- 
pressly delivered his mind, as we showed before, 
where he speaks of the nature and manner of com- 
mentaries on the Holy Scriptures. And certainly if 
they had had any other design or intention, they 
would never have troubled themselves, as they usually 
do, in gathering together the several opinions of other 
men. This diligence, I confess, is laudable in a teacher, 
but it would be very ridiculous in a judge. Their 
style also should be entirely of another kind: and 
those obscurities which we have observed in the 
former part of this treatise, proceeding either from the 
rhetorical ornaments or the logical subtilties which 
they adopt, should have no place here. For who 
could tolerate any such thing in pronouncing a sen- 
tence of judgment, or indeed in giving one's bare tes- 
timony only to any thing? But that which makes 
the truth of this our assertion more clearly to appear 
than all the rest, is the little care and diligence that 
they took, in composing the greatest part of these 
writings of theirs, which we would now wish to be 
the rules of our faith. If these men, who were endued 
with such sanctity, had had any intention of prescrib- 
ing to posterity a true and perfect rule of faith, is it 
probable that they would have gone carelessly to 
work, in a business of such great importance ? Would 
they not rather have gone to it with their eyes opened, 
their judgments settled, their thoughts fixed, and every 
faculty of their soul attentively bent upon the business 
in hand; for fear that, in a business of so great weight 
as this, something might chance to fall from them, 
not so becoming their own wisdom, or so suitable to 


the people's advantage? A judge, that had but ever 
so little conscience, would not otherwise give sen- 
tence concerning the oxen, the field, and the gutters 
of Titius and Msevius. How much more is the same 
gravity and deliberation requisite here, where the 
question is on the faith, the souls, and the eternal sal- 
vation of all mankind? It were clearly therefore the 
greatest injury that could be offered to these holy per- 
sons, to imagine that they would have taken upon 
them to have passed judgment in so weighty a cause 
as this, but with the greatest care and attention that 
could be. Now it is very evident, on the other side, 
that in very many of those writings of theirs, which 
have come down to our hands, there seems to be very 
much negligence ; or, to speak a little more tenderly 
of the business, want of care at least, both in the 
invention, method, and elocution. If therefore we 
tender the reputation either of their honesty or wis- 
dom, we ought rather to say, that their design in 
these books of theirs, was not to pronounce defini- 
tively upon this particular, neither are their writings 
judiciary sentences or final judgments, but rather 
discourses of different kinds, occasioned by divers 
emergencies; and are more or less elaborate, accord- 
ing to the time, judgment, age, and disposition they 
were of, when they wrote them. Now although this 
want of diligence and of deliberation, appears of itself 
evident enough to any one that reads the Fathers 
with the least attention ; yet, that I may not leave this 
assertion of mine unproved, I shall here give you 
some few instances merely as a sample. 

First of all, there are many pieces among the works 
of the Fathers, which were written in haste; and 
some too, which were mere extemporary discourses, 
and such as, in all probability, their authors themselves 
would have found many things therein, which would 
have required correction, had they had but leisure to 
review the same. 

Jerome, in a prologue to certain Homilies of Origen, 
translated by him into Latin, says that Origen com- 


posed and delivered them in the Church extempore.* 
As to these, therefore, we are well satisfied by Je- 
rome; but how many, in the meantime, may there be 
of the like nature, among those numerous Homilies 
of Chrysostom, Augustine, and others; all which we 
perhaps imagine to have been leisurely and deliber- 
ately studied, digested, and composed, which yet some 
sudden occasion might perhaps have put forth into 
the world on the instant, and which were as soon 
born as conceived, and as soon published as made ? 

Jerome often tells us, that he dictated what he wrote 
in haste. Thus at the end of that long epistle which 
he wrote to Fabiola, he says, " that he had despatched 
it in one short evening, when he was about to set 
sail on a voyage."t And (which is a matter of much 
more importance) he says in another place, " that he 
had allotted himself but three days for the translating 
of the three books of Solomon ;" namely, the Pro- 
verbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Canticles :J which yet a 
man will hardly be able to read over well and exactly 
in a month, by reason of the great difficulties he will 
there meet with, as well in the words and phrases, as 
in the sense. Yet for all this (if, what the Church of 
Rome pretends, be true) this little three-days' work of 
Jerome has proved so fortunate, as to deserve, not 
only to be approved and highly esteemed, but even 
canonized also by the Council of Trent. 

Now whether the will of our Lord be, that we 
should receive this translation as his pure word or not, 
I leave to those who have a desire and ability to exa- 
mine. However I dare confidently affirm that Jerome 
himself never had the least thought or hope that this 
piece of his should one day come to this honour; it 
being a thing not to be imagined, but that he would 
have taken both more time and more pains in the 
matter, if ever he had desired or foreseen this. Thus 

* Hier. Prol. in Horn. Orig. in Ies. Nau. 

t Hier. Ep. 128, ad Fabiol. t. 3, vid. et in Epitaph. Marcel. Epist. 
16, extr. 

X Itaque, &c. tridui opus nomini vestro consecravi, interpretatio- 
nem videlicet trium Salomonis voluminum. — Id. Prcef. in Prov. 


it sometimes happens, that men have better fortune 
than ever they wished for. The same author says, 
at the end of another production of his, " That it was 
an extemporary piece, and poured out so fast, that his 
tongue outran the hands of his amanuenses, and by 
its volubility and swiftness, in a manner, confounded 
them and their ciphers and abbreviations."* He else- 
where excuses in like manner another work of his, of 
no small importance (his Commentary upon the Gos- 
pel of Matthew,) telling us, that as he had been strait- 
ened in time, he was constrained to dictate it in very 
great haste. So likewise in the preface to his second 
commentary upon the Epistle of Paul to the Ephe- 
sians, he confesses that he wrote it in such great haste, 
that he many times made as much of it as came to a 
thousand lines in a day. In a word, that I may not 
weary the reader with producing all the instances of 
the same kind, that I could here adduce, it is his ordi- 
nary way of excusing himself, either in prefaces, or 
else at the closing up of all his discourses, to say that 
either the messenger was in haste, or some design 
called him away ; or else some other similar cause was 
alleged. So that he scarcely did any thing but in haste, 
and at full speed. Sometimes again, either sickness 
had broken his spirit, or else the study of the Hebrew 
had made his tongue grow rusty, or his pen was not 
able to exert its wonted power. 

Now, if he would have us receive all his sayings 
as oracles, and did not indeed desire us rather to ex- 
cuse some things in him, and to forgive him in others, 
why should he use these speeches? Who ever heard 
a judge excuse himself on account of the shortness of 
the time? Would not this be rather to accuse than to 
excuse himself, by making such an apology as this 
for himself; forasmuch as giving an over hasty judg- 
ment in any cause, is a very great fault? In my opi- 
nion the Fathers could not more clearly have deprived 
themselves of this dignity of being our judges, with 

* Extemporalis est dictatio, et tanta ad lumen lucernulae facilitate 
profusa, ut notariorum manus lingua praecurreret, et signa ac furta 
verborum volubilitas sermonum obrueret. — Id. Ep. 47. 


which we would invest them, whether they will or 
not, than by writing and speaking after this manner. 
But yet, although Jerome had not given us these 
advertisements, which yet ought to make us look 
well also to the rest of the Fathers, it appears evi- 
dently enough, out of their very writings themselves, 
how little both time and diligence they bestowed, in 
composing the greatest part of them. For otherwise 
how could so many trifling faults, in history, gram- 
mar, philosophy, and the like, have escaped such great 
and eminent persons, who were so well furnished with 
all sorts of literature ? How happened it, that they 
thus either forgot or else mistook themselves as they 
have sometimes done ? 

I shall here give the reader some few examples of 
this kind, not to detract from the praises due to these 
learned persons, as if we thought them really to have 
committed these errors out of ignorance, but rather to 
let the world see, that they did not always make use 
of their whole store of worth and learning ; and that 
sometimes they either could not, or else would not, 
make use but of some part only of their knowledge, 
and of their time ; which is a most certain argument, 
that they had never any intention of being received 
by us as judges in points of faith. 

I shall not say much of their errors in matters of 
time, which are both very notorious and very fre- 
quent with them : as, for example, where Justin Mar- 
tyr says that, " David lived fifteen hundred years be- 
fore the crucifixion of Christ;" — Aa/3tS it sat ^atotj xac 

rt£vtaxoGi,oi$ rtpiv ^ 'Xpiatov avOpitrtov ysvofisvov atavpco97jvav 9 

*a TtposLprt/xsvascpr}-* it being very apparent, by observ- 
ing the course of times, derived through history both 
sacred and profane, that from the death of David to 
the birth of our Saviour Christ, there elapsed no more 
than a thousand and twenty -five or thirty years, or 
thereabouts. So likewise, when Epiphanius writes, 
"that Moses was but thirty years old when he brought 
forth the children of Israel out of Egypt:" — 'o 8e 

Mwdcjjjj sv tu> % avtov itet rtatsi, tijv fpi^pav dahaooav, apa 
* Just. Apol. 


itfpot^weu* ff AiyvTttov iZiuvi* whereas the Scriptures 
clearly testify, that he was eighty years of age. And 
also where he affirms, " that the taking of the city of 
Jerusalem happened sixty-five years after the Passion 
of our Saviour Christ: — rsyovev % ipwtow 'ispoeohvpuv 

fista e^xoatov 7is[ji7ttov £tfo$ tys 'Kpiotov atavpcoasuiS xat 

Chrysostom says that Jerusalem was destroyed by 
Titus five hundred years before his own time. In 
another place, he reckons the period at four hundred 
years. Now it is well known that only three hundred 
and thirty-three or four years elapsed between that 
event and the banishment of Chrysostom. He also 
states that Hezekiah lived one thousand years after 
the death of David; whereas the interval was not as 
much as four hundred years. 

Truly the chronology of the ancients is generally 
very strange, and for the most part very far wide of 
the truth, as has been observed, and also proved at 
large, by all the moderns ; as Scaliger, Petavius, and 
others. But these matters are so very difficult, that 
oftentimes the most diligent inquiries into them may 
chance to mistake. I shall therefore forbear to insist 
any longer upon this particular; and shall now lay 
before you some examples of another nature, and 
such as shall most evidently discover the carelessness 
and negligence of these authors. 

Justin Martyr, speaking of the translation of the 
Seventy Interpreters, says "that Ptolemy king of 
Egypt sent his ambassadors to Herod king of Ju- 

dea," — ('O^f 8s Utohsfiaios o Alyv7ti?Lav j3aot<tev$ pifihtoOq- 
xqv xatscxsvaas, &C. rtpocrsTts^ 5 tot 1czv IovSatay tots j3atft- 
Tisvovtc *Hpiy$>7 a|twv, Starts pfyBrivai avtc* ta$ fii,f5%ov$ tfcov 

7tpo$fi*£t,(dv])X whereas the truth of the story is, that he 
sent to Eleazar the high priest, two hundred forty and 
odd years before Herod was king of Judea. 

Epiphanius tells us, in two or three places, that the 
Peripatetics and Pythagoreans were one and the same 

* Epiphan. in Ancor. num. 112. 

t Epiphan. 1. de. Ponder, et Mens. Num. 12. 

t Justin. Mart. Apol. 2. 


sect of heathen philosophers;* which yet were as 
much different one from the other, as the Stoics and 
Epicureans were ; as every child knows. The same 
author also confidently affirms, though contrary to 
the faith of all ancient history, that the several sects 
and opinions in philosophy sprang from some certain 
mysteries brought to Athens by Orpheus and others ;t 
and that the Stoics believed the immortality and trans- 
migration of souls; J both of which are false: and 
likewise that Nabuchadonosor sent a colony into the 
country about Samaria, after the taking of Jerusalem; § 
whereas, in truth, it was Shalmanesar who had so 
done, long before the other's time. What can you 
think of him, when you find him mistaken in such 
things, as happened not many years before he was 
born; as when he says that Arius died before the 
council of Nice; || and when he relates the story of 
Meletius and his schism altogether contrary to the 

Justin Martyr likewises assures us, as a certain 
truth, that in the reign of the Emperor Claudius, 
there was erected at Rome a statue to Simon Magus, 
in the river Tiber, between the two bridges, with this 
inscription: " to the holy god simon:"1T whereas, 
as our learned critics now inform us, it was only an 
inscription to one of the Pagan demigods, in those 
words, " semoni deo sanco :** which this good Father 
mistook; instead of Semoni, reading Simoni; and for 
Sanco reading Sancto. 

Eusebius says,tt and Jerome frequently repeats it 
after him,J± that Josephus, the Jewish historian, re- 
ports, that at the time of our Saviour's passion the 

* Epiphan. inPanar. lib. 1, et Anaceph. p. 127, 129, 133. 

t Id. contr. Haeres. 1. 1. t Id. Haer. 5. 

§ Id. Panar. 1. 1. || Id. Heer. Arian. 69. num. 10, 11. 

IT *Oc (li/uuv) h r» ttoku @>±cri\iSi 'Pa/un Bios ho/uto-Qn, Kxt avfyuvrt 7rxp' 
vjum w? Biog ren/uwrar oc dvcfy/ce? &viy»y sprat h too Tifkpt Trora/ua, (azta^v 
Tfcv fuo ye<$vpav, &%ocv t7rtypccq»iv 'VutjuaiKHv tavthv JZi/uwt feet) (TctyKrco* — Just. 
Mart. Apol. 2. 

** Desider. Herald, in Apol. Tertul. 

ft Euseb. in Chron. et 'AttcS^. 8. p. 250. 

XX Hier. ep. 150, Hedibiae Comment. 4. in Matth. ep. 17 f quae est 
Paul, et Eustoch. T. i. p. 153. 


heavenly powers forsook the temple of Jerusalem ; 
and that there was a great noise heard, and a voice 
saying, MsTapaiv^iisv ivtsvOsv, "Let us depart hence ;" 
and yet nevertheless the truth of the story is, that Jo- 
sephus reported this to have happened at the time the 
city was besieged; that is to say, above thirty-five 
years after the death of our Saviour. 

The same authors, and in a manner all others after 
them,* have constantly delivered, as a certain truth, 
that Philo the Jew, in that book of his entitled " De 
Vita Contemplativa" describes to us the manner of 
life of the Christian Aax^tav, or Monks; and yet that 
book of Philo, which is still extant, proclaims loud 
enough, that he there speaks not of the Christians but 
of the Essenes, who were one of the three sects among 
the Jews ; as has been observed by Scaliger, and va- 
rious others after him.t We have noticed how Am- 
brose,! without giving us any account of his reasons 
why he does so, understands by Gog and Magog 
mentioned in Ezekiel, the nations of the Goths, who 
in his time overran all Christendom. He tells us in 
another place, with the very same confidence, that 
Zacharias,§ the father of John the Baptist, was high 
priest of the Jews; which yet Baronius has clearly 
proved to be false. || 

Epiphanius affirms that Pison, which was one of 
the four rivers that watered the terrestrial Paradise, 
mentioned by Moses, " was the same that the Indians 
and Ethiopians call Ganges, and the Greeks Indus: 
which river passing at length through Ethiopia, dis- 
charges itself at last into the ocean at Cadiz !1T What 
wonderful geography have we here, (if at least we may 
call it by this name,) which jumbles together the east 

* Euseb. Hist. Eccles. 1. 2. c. 15, 16. Hier. lib. de Script. Eccles. 

t Scalig. de Emend. Temp. 1. 6. c. 1. 

t Ambros. 1. 2. de fide ad Gratian. 

§ Ambros. Comment, in Luc. 

|] Baron, in Apparat num. 69. 

IT Kdi <ttt(roov fJ&v zcrriv o Tayyvc 7rapA <rot$ 9 1v<Pqi$ kclxou/uzvog AiQio-^iv 


AlBtoTTiAVy xzi 6vu WtoQzv TaSwctv th tcv /ueyav oMixvov* — Ephiphan. in 


and the west, and confounds places which are nearly 
a whole hemisphere distant from each other ! 

Basil also, who is otherwise an excellent author, 
has mistaken likewise, though not so much, the source 
of the river Danube ; for he only makes it rise out of 
the Pyrenean mountains: — 9 Aho 8s Bvctpw r^v Ospwov 

V7to to Uyppyvacov opoj Taptf^tfof ?s, xotc ItJi'poj.^ 

Speaking of those rivers reminds me, that all the 
Fathers! unanimously understand by Gihon (one of 
the rivers of Paradise,) the river Nile, which has so 
deceived cardinal Perron also, J that he delivers it to 
us as the express text of the Scripture ; by this means 
making it guilty of a manifest absurdity, however in- 
nocent in itself it be, and free from intending any such 
thing; since neither in the Hebrew, Greek, nor Latin 
text, is it ever said that the river Nile watered the land 
of Paradise ; it being only a dream of the Fathers, 
that one of those rivers of Paradise must needs have 
been the Nile; though this fancy of theirs (as Scaliger 
makes it appear,§ and as it is confessed by Petavius 
also, ||) is built upon no ground or reason at all. ' 

Neither has their philosophy been less wonderful 
than their geography: as for example, when Tertul- 
lian maintains,1T that plants are endued both with 
feeling and understanding. So likewise where Epi- 
phanius holds,** that it is possible for a dead man to 
return to life again, without the reunion of the soul 
to the body. As also where Ambrose says that the 
sun, to the end he may allay his extreme heat, re- 
freshes himself with the nourishment which he draws 
up from the waters ; and that from hence it is, that 
we sometimes see him appear as it were all over wet, 
and dropping with 

* Basil. Horn. 3. in Isa. 

t Theoph. Antioch. 1. 2. Ambros. 1. de Parad. c. 3. Epiph. Panar. 
haer. 66. Hieron. de locis Hebr. voc. Geon, Alii. 

X Da Perron en sa Repr. p. 950. 

§ Scalig-. de Emend. Temp. 

H Peta. in Epiph. p. 371. IT Tertul. 1. de An. c. 19. 

** Epiphan. in Ancor. num. 90. 

ft Frequenter solem videmus madidum, atque rorantem, in quo 
evidens dat indicium quod alimentum sibi aquarum ad temperiem sui 
sumpserit. — Ambrose Hexaem, I. 2. c. 3. 



Again, you have some of them treating the doc- 
trine of the spherical figure of the heavens with very- 
great scorn; and maintaining, that it is only, as it 
were, an arch which is built upon the waters as on 
its base.* Others of them you have, who will not 
endure to hear of the earth being of a spherical figure, 
or of the Antipodes ; and account those men little less 
than infidels, who shall offer to maintain any such 
opinions.! But these are not bare mistakes and over- 
sights only; but are rather errors which proceeded 
from the want of a due examination and a right ap- 
prehension of things. As for their grammatical errors, 
they are more frequent and usual with them than any 
other: and the reason of their so often mistaking here, 
is the little knowledge they had of the Hebrew tongue : 
as, for instance, when Optatus, and some others of 
them, deduce the name Cephas from the Greek xstya^, 
which signifies a head:% whereas Cepha is a Syriac 
word, and signifies a stone, as the Evangelist express- 
ly testifies. § Ambrose is in the like manner mistaken, 
where he derives the word Pascha, which is of He- 
brew extraction, and which signifies properly a pass- 
ing, from a Greek word signifying to suffer ;\\ in 
which etymology he is faithfully followed by Pope 
Innocent III., in an oration of his, which he made at 
the opening of the council of Lateran.1T 

We have heretofore noticed some errors of theirs of 
this nature, observed by Jerome, to whom the Church 
is very much obliged, both for the great pains that he 
took to attain so deep a knowledge of the Hebrew 
tongue; and also for the great courage he had in 
freely noting all such impertinences, whenever he 
met with them ; who or however great the authors of 
them were. All the rest of the Fathers, a very few 

* Justin. Quaest. et Respons. Qu. 130. ad Autolyc. 

+ Lactant. Instit. 1. 3. c. 34. August, de Civit. Dei, 1. 16. c. 9. 

X Omnium Apostolorum caput Petrus, unde et Cephas appellatus 
est. — Optat. I. contr. Don. 

§ John i. 42. 

|| Quod quidem sacrum nomen ab ipsius Domini passione descen- 
dit — Ambros. 1. de Pasch. c. I. 

t Innoc. III. Ser. I. in Concil. Later. 


only excepted, do here as it were only grope their 
way in the dark: and hence it is that we have so 
many wild etymologies given by them of the proper 
names we meet with in the Scriptures. Who can read 
without amazement, what Irenseus has delivered on 
the derivation of the name of Jesus ; which he will 
have to be composed of two letters and a half;* add- 
ing moreover, that in the ancient language of the 
Hebrews it signifies heaven, notwithstanding that the 
angel expressly testified at the very beginning of 
Matthew's gospel, that our Saviour Christ was called 
Jesus, because " He was to save his people from their 

Of the like nature is his assertion, " That the name 
of God, Adonai, signifies wonderful: or if you write 
thus, Addhonei, it then signifies Him that bounds and 
separates the earth from the water." He gives simi- 
lar etymologies of the words Sabaoth, and Jaoth. 
Similar to these are those mysteries of which he in- 
forms us, in the afore-cited treatise of his, which no 
author else, either ancient or modern, ever heard of: J 
telling us that Barneth is the name of God in He- 
brew; and that the first and most ancient Hebrew 
letters, which were called Sacerdotal, were only ten 
in number, and were written fifteen different ways. 

Out of the same storehouse has Clemens Alexan- 
drinus produced us that precious etymology which 
he has given of the name of Abraham, saying, " It 
is, by interpretation, The elect father of a sound" 

'Epp'qvsvs'tai, pzv yap, rtai'^p ix%sxto$ tiz ov $*§ and that 

other of the name Rebecca, which he will have to 
signify The glory of God, Fsfiexxa ds ip^vsvstaiy 6eov 

Sofa. || 

Hilary says, that Zion signifies a fruitless tree.^ 
But Jerome informs us,** that Hilary, understanding 
nothing of the Hebrew, and being not so very excel- 

* Jesus autem nomen secundum propriam Hebraeorum linguam, 
literarum est duarum et dimidise, &c. — Iren. contr. Hcer, I. 2. c. 41. 
t Matth. i. 12. Iren. 1. 2. c. 66. t Id. ibid. 

§ Clem. Alex. Strom. 1. 4. || Id. p. 222. 

IT Seon infructuosae arboris interpretatio est. — Hilar. Ps. 132. 
** Hieron. Ep. 141, ad Marcell. 


lent in Greek either, was glad to make use of a certain 
priest, named Heliodorus, to interpret to him out of 
Origen whatever he himself understood not; who, 
not discharging his trust sometimes so faithfully as 
he should have done, was the cause of this Father's 
committing certain errors of this nature, in his Com- 

Theophilus of Antioch says, that before Melchise- 
dec's time, the city of Jerusalem was called Hieroso- 
lyma;* but that afterwards it was called Hierusalem, 
from him; which is a very strange fancy of his, and 
such a one as it is no very easy matter to guess what 
ground he should have for it. 

What strange dreams does Ambrose entertain his 
readers with,t when he expounds the names of Cho- 
rat, and of Oreb; the one whereof with him signifies 
the understanding, and the other, the whole heart, 
or, as the heart : and thus likewise in his exposition 
of the 118th Psalm, J where he gives us the meaning 
of each of the Hebrew letters with which the first 
verses begin, of every one of the twenty-two Octon- 
aries, whereof the said 118th Psalm, according to the 
Hebrew reckoning, consists. But he is by no means 
to be pardoned,§ where he is so much out in the Greek 
tongue, which he understood, in deriving the word 
ovoia, essence, from dUc always, and ovaa being: which 
is such a gross mistake as would not have been par- 
doned to a school boy at a grammar school. 

As for Jerome, it is true that he is sometimes guilty 
of the same fault; though I should think he does it on 
purpose, and to make himself merry only, rather than 
any way mistaking himself: as for example, when he 
derives the Latin word Nugde from the Hebrew yu 
Noge,\\ which you read in the prophet Zephaniah, hi. 
8. And so likewise when he searches in the Hebrew, 
for the signification of Paul,H Philemon, Onesimus, 
Timothy, and other words which are purely Greek. 

* Theoph. Antioch. 1. 2. ad Autol. t Ambros. Ep. 1. 10. Ep. 82. 

I Ambros. in Psai. 118. 

§ Id. lib. de Incarn. Dom. Sacr. c. 9. 

|| Hier. in Sophon. c. 3. ver. 8. T Id. Comm. in ep. ad Philem. 


Even in the very Scriptures themselves, which they 
were both better acquainted with, and which they 
also had in greater veneration than any other books 
whatever, they often mistake themselves in citing 
them. As, for example, when Justin Martyr adduces 
a passage out of the Prophet Zephaniah,* which is 
not found any where but in Zechariah; and in another 
place where he names Jeremiah instead of Daniel.t 
Thus likewise when Hilary tells us that Paul, in the 
thirteenth chapter of the Acts, adduces a certain pas- 
sage out of the first Psalm, which yet is found only 
in the second; J whereas Paul in that place speaks 
not one syllable of the first Psalm, but expressly 
names the second. So also when Epiphanius says, 
out of the twenty-seventh chapter, verse thirty-seven, 
of the Acts of the Apostles,§ that the number of those 
who were in the ship with Paul, when he suffered 
shipwreck, was one while seventy, and by and by 
eighty souls; whereas the text says expressly, that 
they were in all two hundred and seventy -six. Thus 
likewise when in another place he affirms, out of the 
Gospel, that our Saviour Christ said to his mother, 

"Touch me not;" — Ovtu xcu 6 xvpio$ Bista^sv h ?gj 
jvayytXtw, &C. rprj6a$ ty p^rpL avtov, M^ y.ov artrov :|| 

whereas it appears plainly out of the text, that these 
words were spoken only to Mary Magdalene. So 
where Jerome takes great pains to reconcile a certain 
passage alleged by him out of Habakkuk,1T with the 
original, telling us that Paul had cited it in these 
words, "The just shall live by my faith:" whereas it 
is most evident that the Apostle, both in the first chap- 
ter of the epistle to the Romans, and in the epistle to 
the Galatians, has it only thus: "The just shall live 
by faith," and not " The just shall live by my faith." 
Athanasius in his Synopsis, (or whoever else was 
the author of that piece) reckoning up the several 
books of Scriptures, evidently takes the third book of 
Esdras, which has been always accounted apocryphal 

* Just. Mart. Apol. 2. t Id. ibid. 

X Hilar, in Psal. 2. § Epiphan. in Ancor. 

[| Id. in Panar. 1. 3, Haer. 80. IT Hieron. Comm. 1, in Abac. 


by the consent of all Christendom, for the first, which 
is received by all Christians and Jews into the canon 
of the Scriptures. We might class in this number (if 
at least so foolish a piece deserves to have any place 
among the writings of the Fathers) that gross mistake 
which we meet with in an epistle of Pope Gregory II. 
who rails fiercely against Uzziah for breaking the 
brazen serpent; calling him, for this act, " The brother 
of the Emperor Leo the Iconoclast:"* which, as he 
thought, was the same as to reckon him among the 
most mischievous and wretched princes that ever had 
been; and yet all this while the Scripture tells us, that 
this was the act, not of Uzziah, but of the good king 
Hezekiah; and that he deserved to be rather com- 
mended for the same than blamed. 

As for their slips of memory, he had need of a very 
happy one himself, who should undertake to enume- 
rate them all. For example, Ambrose tells us some- 
where, that the eagle on dying is revived again out 
of her own ashes.t Who sees not, that in this place 
he would have said the phoenix? In another place 
however, giving us an account of the story of the 
phoenix, as it is commonly delivered, he says that 
"This we have learned from the authority of the 
Scriptures." J By a like mistake it was that he affirm- 
ed, that these words, " For this very purpose have I 
raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee,"§ 
were spoken to Moses; to whom, notwithstanding, 
the Lord never said any such word, but rather to 
Pharaoh. In like manner does he attribute to the 
Jews those words in the ninth chapter of John, which 
were indeed spoken by Christ's disciples, who asked 
him, saying, " Master, who did sin, this man or his 
parents, that he was born blind?"|| I impute that 

* Greg. II. in Ep. ad Leon. Isaur. de col. Imag. 

t Quod etiam aquila, cum fuerit mortua, ex suis reliquiis renas- 
catur. — Ambros. I. 2, de Panit. c. 2. 

t Atqui hoc relatione crebra, et Scripturarum authoritate cognovi- 
mus, memoratam avem, &c. — Id. lib. defid. Resur. 

§ Denique iterum Moysi dicit, Quia in hoc ipsum te suscitavi, ut 
ostendam in te virtutem meam. — Ambros. ser. 10. 

|| Quam stolidi autem Judaei qui interrogant, Hie peccavit, an pa- 
rentes ? — Ambros. Ep. I. 9, Ep. 75. 


other mistake of his to the heat of his rhetoric, where 
he brings in one of the seven brethren in the Macca- 
bees,* who suffered under king Antiochus ; and makes 
him quote the example of John and of James, " the 
sons of thunder," two of our Saviour's Apostles, who 
came not into the world, as every one knows, till a 
long time after this. 

It was a slip of memory also in Tertullian, where 
he tells us, " that the Lord said to Moses, They have 
not rejected thee, but they have rejected me:"t which 
words were indeed spoken to Samuel, and not to 

Moses. J 

Jerome also was misled in like manner, when he 
tells us, " that none of the Fathers ever understood 
the word kneiv, in the last verse of the first chapter 
of Matthew, otherwise than of the conjugal act;§ not 
remembering, that his own dear friend Epiphanius 
takes the word in a quite different sense, and will 
have the meaning of the place to be, " that Joseph, 
before the miraculous birth of our Saviour Christ, 
knew not what glory and excellency was to befall the 
blessed virgin;" knowing nothing else of her before, 
save only that she was the daughter of Joachim, and 
of Anna, and cousin to Elizabeth, who was of the 
house of David: || whereas he at that time knew clear- 
ly that God had done her that honour of sending his 
angel to her, and of choosing her to receive that great 
and wonderful benefit. 

But we intend not here to give an inventory of all 
the errors of this nature, which are to be found in the 
writings of the ancients ; these specimens may suffi- 
ciently serve to show what their whole productions 
are. I shall only add here, that besides this careless- 

* Id. 1. 2, de Sanct. Jacob, c. 11. 

t Tertul. contr. Marc. 1. 4, c. 24. I 1 Sara. 8. 

§ In quo primum adversarius superfluo labore desudat, cognos- 
cendi verbum ad coitum magis quam ad scientiam esse referendum, 
quasi hoc quisquam negaverit. — Hieron. I. contr. Helvid. 

|| 'Axx' ofxoe; \yvoo r»v M*pt*fA o la<r»q>, ob xu.<ret yyuriv rtvx ^wim, cu 
jtctTtf. yvaxrtv KUvtovtxg, dxx' \yvcc avrnv, Ti/uav Tnv ix. rcu Btcu Tirt/unuiv»v' ob 
yap yJu uvtm, Toizuriis Scfyc obrctv, — Epiphan. in Panar. Hasr. 78. Anti- 


ness which is so common with them, in writing thus 
confidently whatsoever came into mind, or whatever 
others had delivered to them for sound and good, with- 
out ever examining it thoroughly ; they yet had an- 
other kind of custom, which seems not to suit so well 
with the character of judges, which we attribute to 
them. And this is, that in their writings they some- 
times amuse themselves with presenting us such rare 
allegorical observations, as have scarcely any more 
solidity or body, than those castles of cards that little 
children are wont to make. These Cardinal Perron 
calls des gai&tes joyeuses* 

I know very well that allegories are useful, and 
many times also necessary : if they be but sound, clear, 
and well grounded. But I speak here only of such 
as wrest the text, and, as it were, drag it along by the 
hair, and make the sense of the Scripture evaporate 
in empty fumes. Of these are the writings of the 
Fathers full. Jerome often complains of the strange 
liberty that Origen and his disciples took herein. 
Certainly he himself often indulges in this way ; and 
whoever has a mind to see it, may read his 146th Epis- 
tle, where he expounds the parable of the Prodigal 
Son :t or let him but turn to the discourse which he 
has made on the genealogy of the prophet Zephaniah, 
and concerning the city of Damascus,! and also upon 
the history of Abishag the Shunamite,§ and upon the 
five-and-twenty men and the two princes spoken of 
in Ezekiel, chap. xi.|| and upon the destruction of 
Tyre, of Egypt,1T and of Assyria,** foretold by the 
same prophet: as also his subtle observations upon 
the Numbers, and upon king Darius,tt and upon that 
command of our Saviour Christ, J J where he bids us 
turn the left cheek to him that hath smitten us on the 
right: and many other the like discourses of his. 

Hilary is so much taken with this manner of wri- 

* Perron's Repl. p. 743. 

t Hier. in ep. 146, ad Damas. paene tot. 

X Id. Com. in Soph.* § Id. ep. ad. Nepot. 

II Hier. Comm. 3. in Ezech. IT Id. Comm. 8. in Ezech. 

** Id. Comm. 9. in eundem. ft Id. Comm. 10. in eund. 

XX Id. Comm. in Agg. 


ting, that his expositions upon the Scripture are half 
full of these allegories,* and to make himself the more 
work, he sometimes frames certain impossibilities and 
absurdities which he would make the Scripture seem 
to be guilty of, which yet it is not; only that he may 
have some pretence to have recourse to his allegories.! 
As for example, in the 136th Psalm, he will needs 
have the letter of the text to be utterly inexplicable, 
where it says, that the Jews sat down by the rivers 
of Babylon, and hanged up their harps upon the wil- 
lows : as if in this country that was watered with the 
Tigris and Euphrates, there had been neither river, 
nor willow, nor any aquatic tree. He also demands,:]: 
(as if it had been a most indissoluble question, if taken 
in the literal sense,) who the u daughter of Babylon" 
is; and why she is called "miserable?" which is so 
easy a question, that any child almost might very 
easily resolve it, without torturing the text with alle- 
gories. So likewise, in his exposition of the 146th 
Psalm, he understands by the clouds, wherewith God 
is said to cover the heavens, the writings of the pro- 
phets; and by the rain, which he prepares for the earth, 
the evangelical doctrine; by the mountains which 
bring forth grass, the Prophets and Apostles; by the 
beasts, he understands men; and by the young ravens, 
the Gentiles; assuring us withal, that it would not 
only be erroneous, but rather very irreligious to take 
these words in a literal sense. § May not this be called 
rather trifling with than expounding the Scriptures? 
So likewise in another place, speaking of the fowls of 
the air, which our Saviour said neither reaped nor 
gathered into barns, he understands, by these, the 
devils ; and by the lilies of the field, which spin not, 
the angels. || 

I should much abuse the reader's patience, if I 
should set down the strange discourses he has upon 

* Id. Comm. 1. in Matth. t Hilar, in Ps. 136. 

t Id. ibid. fol. 108. 

§ Haec ita intelligere, non dicam erroris, sed irreligiositatis est. — 
Id. in Psal. 146. fol. 128. 
|| Id. Can. 5. in Matth. vi. 26. fol. 7. 


the story of the two possessed with devils, who were 
healed by our Saviour, in the country of the Gerge- 
senes ; and upon the leap which the devils made the 
neighbouring herd of swine take into the sea;* and 
of the swine-herds running away into the city, and of 
the citizens coming forth, and entreating our Saviour 
to depart out of their coasts : or if I should but give 
you the whole exposition which he has made of these 
words of Matthew x. 29: "Are not two sparrows 
sold for a farthing?" &c.t where, by the two sparrows 
he understands sinners, whose souls and bodies, which 
were created to fly upward and to mount on high, 
sell themselves to sin for mere trifles and things of no 
value; by this means becoming both as one, the soul 
by sin thickening as it were into a body : with such 
other wild fancies, the reading of which would aston- 
ish a man of any judgment rather than edify him. 

Neither is Ambrose a whit more serious, when ex- 
pounding those words of our Saviour, Matth. xvii. 
20: " If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye 
shall say to this mountain, Remove hence to yonder 
place," &c.J "By this mountain (saith Ambrose) is 
meant the devil." It would be too tedious a business 
to set down here at length all that might be collected 
of this nature out of Ambrose : he that has a mind to 
see more examples of this kind, may read but his 
homilies upon the 118th Psalm; which will indeed be 
otherwise very well worth any man's reading, as 
being a very excellent one, and full of eloquence and 
sound doctrine. Yet a man would find it a troublesome 
business to make any defence for him, where he ven- 
tures sometimes to use the sacred words of the Scrip- 
ture in his own sportive fancies : as where he applies 
to Valentinian and Gratian that which is spoken of 
Christ and the Church in the Canticles : " that thou 
wert as my brother that sucked the breasts of my 
mother ! When I should find thee without, I would 

* Id. Can. 8. in Matth. viii. 28. fol. 10. t Id. Can. 10. fol. 13. 

J Si habueritis fidem sicut granum sinapis, dicetis huic monti, 
Tollere et jactare in mare. Huic; Cui ? Daemonic) inquit, a quo 
iste invasus fuerat, &c. — Ambros, in Ps. 36. p. 503. Matth. xvii. 20. 


kiss thee, &c. I would lead thee, and bring thee into 
my mother's house, &c. I would cause thee to drink 
of spiced wine, and of the juice of my pomegranates. 
His left hand should be under my head, and his right 
hand should embrace me." " In this place," says he, 
" is meant the emperor Gratian of renowned memory, 
who tells his brother that he is furnished with the 
fruits of divers virtues."* To the same purpose does 
he make application of divers other passages of this 
sacred Canticle; and with such great license, as, to 
say the truth, no poet ever launched out with more 
liberty and freedom than he has done in that book. 

I shall here purposely pass by what I might pro- 
duce of this nature, out of Gregory Nazianzen, Au- 
gustine, and almost all the rest of the Fathers: for 
what we have already brought is enough, and indeed 
more than we needed for our present purpose. Let 
the reader therefore now judge whether or not the 
Fathers, by this their manner of writing, have not 
clearly enough attested against themselves, that their 
intention, when they wrote these their books, never 
was either to bound and determine our faith, or to 
decide our differences about the same. • I must needs 
confess, that they were persons who were endued with 
very large gifts of the Spirit; and with a most lively 
and clear understanding for diving into the truth. 
Yet those who have the greatest share of those gifts, 
have it to very little purpose, if they employ it not to 
the utmost of their power, when the business they are 
to treat of is of such great difficulty, and importance; 
and such as to the deciding and discussing of which 
we can never bring enough attention or diligence. 

Now that the Fathers have not observed this course 
in their writings appears clearly enough by what has 
been formerly said. Their books therefore are not to 
be received by us, either as definitive sentences, or 
final judgments upon our present controversies. 

I confess that these trivial errors ought not to lessen 
the opinion we have of the greatness and power of 

* Promittit fratri augustoe memoriae Gratianus, prsesto sibi fructus 
diversarum esse virtutum. — Id. tract, de Obit. Valent. p. 11, 12. 


their minds. I believe they might very easily have 
avoided falling into them, if they would but have 
taken a little pains. And I am of opinion that they 
fell into them merely by inadvertency only; which 
may also sometimes happen even to the greatest mas- 
ters in any sciences whatever. I shall as willingly 
also yield to you, (if you desire it,) that they have 
sometimes done these things purposely; letting fall 
here and there throughout their writings such little 
slips from their pen, sportively and by way of recre- 
ation ; or else from a design of exercising our inge- 
nuity. But certainly, whatever the reason was, seeing 
that they had no intention to use any more care or 
diligence in the composing of their books ; we may 
very well, and indeed we ought to conclude from 
hence, that they had never any intention that these 
books of theirs should be our judges. 

These venial faults, these mistakes, these over- 
sights, these inadvertencies, and these sportings of 
theirs, do sufficiently evidence, that we are to make 
our references to others; and that they have not so 
seriously delivered their opinions as if they had sat 
on the seat of judgment, but rather have spoken as in 
their chamber, delivering their own private opinions 
only, and not in the capacity of judges. 

These considerations, joined to what has been said 
in this particular, by some of the chief and most emi- 
nent among themselves, as we have formerly shown, 
make it appear in my judgment evident enough, that 
their own will and desire is, that we should not em- 
brace their opinions as oracles, or receive them as 
definitive decisions; but that we should rather ex- 
amine them by the Scriptures and by reason: as be- 
ing the opinions of doctors, who were indeed very 
able and excellent men ; but yet, were still men, sub- 
ject to error, and who were not always able to see 
what was true and sound: and who peradventure, 
even in this very case in hand, have not always done 
what they might, by reason of their employing either 
less time, or less care and diligence, than they would 
have done, if they had had any serious purpose of 
doing their utmost endeavour in this particular. 



Reason IV. — That the Fathers have erred in divers points of religion; 
not only singly, but also many of them together. 

I conceive that what has been stated in the two pre- 
ceding chapters is sufficient to make it appear to any 
moderate man, that the authority of the Fathers in 
matters of religion is not so great as people commonly 
imagine it to be. Thou therefore, whosoever thou 
art, if thou be but an indifferent and impartial reader, 
may est omit the reading of this and the following 
chapter ; both which I must add, though much against 
my will, to answer all objections that may yet be 
made by perverse and obstinate persons. For the 
prejudice wherewith they are beforehand possessed, 
may hinder them perhaps from seeing the clearness 
of reason, and from hearing the voice of the Fathers 
themselves; whose words they perhaps will be ready 
to impute to their modesty, rather than consent to 
yield to them no more honour than they themselves 
require. The pertinacity therefore of these men, and 
not any need that thou hast of my doing so, has con- 
strained me to lay aside some of that respect that I 
bear towards antiquity ; and has obliged me to expose 
to view some errors of the Fathers, which are of much 
more importance than the former, if by this means at 
least I may be able to overcome their opposition. For 
when they shall but see that the Fathers have erred 
in many considerable points, I hope they will at length 
confess, that they had very good reason gravely to 
advise us, not to believe, or take upon trust, any of 
their opinions, unless we find that they are grounded 
either upon the Scriptures, or else upon some other 

I confess, I enter upon this inquiry very unwilling- 
ly, as taking very little pleasure in discovering and 
exposing the infirmities and failings of any men, espe- 
cially of such as are otherwise worthy of such great 


esteem and honour : yet there is nothing in the world, 
however precious or dear it be, that we ought not to 
disregard, if compared with truth and the edification 
of men. And I am verily persuaded that even these 
holy men themselves, were they now alive, would 
give us thanks for the pains we have taken, in en- 
deavouring to make the world see that they were but 
men ; and would account themselves beholden to us, 
for having boldly undertaken the business of discover- 
ing those imperfections and failings of theirs, which 
Divine Providence has suffered them to leave behind 
them in their writings, to the end only that they might 
serve as so many arguments to us of their humanity. 
If there be any, notwithstanding, that shall take 
offence at it, I must entreat them once again to con- 
sider that the perverseness only of those men with 
whom I have to deal, has forced me to this irrever- 
ence, (if we are to call it so) together with the desire 
I have to manifest to the world so important a truth 
as this is. 

If I wished to defend myself by precedents, I could 
here make use of that of cardinal Perron;* who, to 
justify the Church of Rome's interdicting the reading 
of the Bible to any of the laity, except only such as 
should have express permission, scruples not to expose 
to the view of the world, not all the faults, for there 
are none; but all the false appearances of faults that 
are found in the Bible, writing a whole chapter ex- 
pressly on the subject. How much more lawfully 
then may we adventure here to expose to public view 
some few of the failings of the Fathers, to whom we 
owe infinitely less respect than to God; if it be only 
to moderate a little that excessive devotion which 
most men bear towards their writings; that so the 
one party may be persuaded to seek out for some 
other weapons, than the authority of these men, for 
the defence of their opinions ; and that the other party 
may not so easily be induced to regard the bare testi- 
mony of antiquity? 

It was the saying of a great prince long ago, that 

* Du Perron, Repliq. 1. 6, c. 6, p. 949. 


the vilest and most shameful necessities of his nature, 
were the things that most clearly convinced him that 
he was a man, and no God, as his flattering courtiers 
would needs have made him believe he was. Seeing 
therefore that it behoves us so much to know that the 
Fathers were but men, let us not be afraid to pro- 
duce here this argument so clear and evident of their 
humanity. Let us boldly enter into their most hidden 
secrets, and let us see whatever marks of their humani- 
ty they have left us in their writings, that we may no 
longer adore their authority, as if it were divine. 

Yet I protest here before I begin, that I will not 
take any advantage of the many proofs of their human 
passions which we meet with, partly in their own 
writings, and partly in the histories of their life. I 
wish rather, that all of this kind might be buried in 
an eternal oblivion, and that we would speak of them 
as of persons that were most accomplished for purity 
and innocence of life, as far, at least, as the frail con- 
dition of human nature can bear. I shall only touch 
upon the errors of their belief, and those things where- 
in they have failed, not in living but in writing. 

The most ancient of them all is Justin Martyr; a 
man renowned in all ancient histories for his great 
knowledge, both in religion and philosophy; and also 
for the fervency of his zeal, which he so evidently 
manifested, by his suffering a glorious martyrdom for 
our Saviour Jesus Christ. Yet for all this, how many 
opinions do we meet with in his books, which are 
either very trivial, or else manifestly false ? Only hear 
how he speaks of the last times immediately preceding 
the day of judgment and the end of the world: — "As 
for me, (says he) and the rest of us that are true 
Christians, we know that there shall be a resurrection 
of the flesh, and that the Saints shall spend a thou- 
sand years in Jerusalem, which shall be rebuilt, en- 
riched, and enlarged, as the prophets Ezekiel, Isaiah, 
and others assure us.* 

* 'Eya Jg kxI u TIPS? eitrtv o^Soyvce/uovsg hzta Trstvrst XfiKxriavoi, kui crapKOS 
{tvntrrcicrtv yevarer&xj imo'rct/uLiQaL km %iht* st» \v 'lepovtrxkHju MKcJo/tAtiQiurn, 
xzt xto-fjuQurti Kctt7rxa.ruvQii7yt, &c. — Justin, contr. Tryph. pag. 307. 


To this purpose he cites what is written, Isaiah 
Ixv. and besides, that other passage in the Revela- 
tion, where it is said, " That those which had believed 
in Christ, should live and reign with him a thousand 
years in Jerusalem; and that after this there should 
be a general and final resurrection and judgment."* 
In these words you see plainly that he holds with the 
Millennarians, that the Saints shall reign a thousand 
years in Jerusalem, before the resurrection be per- 
fectly accomplished : which is an opinion that is at 
this day condemned as erroneous, by the whole Wes- 
tern Church, both on the one side and on the other. 
He seems, in another place, to have held that the 
essence of God was finite, and was not present in all 
places; where he endeavours to prove against a Jew 
that it was not the Father who rained fire and brim- 
stone upon Sodom, because that he could not then 
have been at that time in heaven.t 

That which he has delivered concerning the angels 
is altogether as senseless, though not so dangerous ; 
namely, " That God having in the beginning commit- 
ted to them the care and providence over men, and 
all sublunary things, they had broken this order, by 
suffering themselves to be overcome by the love of 
women, by associating with whom had been also 
born children, which are those we now call demons, 
or devils "% 

I know not either whether Justin will be able easily 
to convert any one to that other opinion of his, where 
he says that " All the souls of the saints, and of the 
prophets, had fallen under the power of evil spirits, 
such as were the spirits of Python; and that this 

* XtXlot ir» 7rciy,<ruv sv ( l6gov<m\»/iA <tous t« ifA&repa) Xptcrroc TrlcrTwa-dLmdLC, 
&,C. ; K*t /usrcL raw*, t»v K3t0o?v./>oiv, text o-vVihovTi (pctvut, aiwi&v ouoQujuetfov 7rctvTa)v uvci'jTdia-iv ymireo-Qxt, x-jli xpinv. — Just, contr. Tryph. p. 307. 

t 'E7TS* Z'JLV {XA OVTCO VCH^OOfAiV ToLQ ypxtyccg <TVju{2>lCr£T!tl TCV 7TCX.TipCX. KU.I XVfUOV 

rw chcov /u» yiymr&xi Tore ly IMS obpocveig, &ts eft* Moeaseec Xik&creu, nut 

Kupios ifipifyv \m loSofA-ji, &c— Id. contr. Tryph. p. 283 et 357. 

X Thv juttv tuv avbpa>?ra)V, k*i rcev v7ro tcv ovpecvov 7rpovciot.v uyyixoie, oCc Itti 
tqvtgis Itx^z, Trupefeoittv Oi <fg dyyexoi ?rzpxfi4.v7i; mvft r»v ntgtv, yvvxiKCDv 
jut^iTtv MTTH0H<rav, K-u 7rcuP&s Wewua-xv, oi iia-tv ol Myo/uevsi A'ju/ugvk* — Id. in 
Apol. pro Christ, ad Senat. p. 44. 


was the reason why oar Saviour Christ, being ready- 
to give up the ghost, recommended his spirit to God:"* 
I pray you tell me, out of what part of God's word 
he learned this doctrine, which he delivers in his 
second Apology; where he says, u That all those who 
lived according to the rule of reason were Christians, 
notwithstanding that they might have been accounted 
as Atheists; such as among the Greeks were Socrates, 
Heraclitus, and the like; and among the Barbarians, 
Abraham and Azarias."t He repeats the same doc- 
trine within a few lines afterwards, and says that 
" All those who lived, or do now live, according to 
the rule of reason, are Christians, and are in an as- 
sured, quiet condition."!: 

Ireneeus, bishop of Lyons, who lived very near 
Justin's time, Avas also of the same opinion with him, 
as to the state of the soul after it was once departed 
from the body, till the hour of judgment. For, to- 
wards the conclusion of that excellent book of his, 
which he wrote against heresies ; after he has told us 
that our Saviour Christ had descended into hell, or 
the place of departed spirits, which place he opposes 
to the light of this world, he further adds, that " It is 
evident that the souls of the disciples of our Saviour, 
for the love of whom he did all these things, shall go 
also into a certain invisible place, which is provided 
for them by God, there to expect the resurrection: 
and ' shall afterwards resume their bodies, and be 
raised up again in all perfection ; that is to say, cor- 
poreally, in the same manner as our Saviour was 
raised up again, and so shall they come into the pre- 
sence of God."§ This opinion he opposes against 

* QxtViTClt efg KM OTt 7rcL>Td>l Ctl -\w)(dLt TW OVTOO; JlKMUV, KCtt TlpO<$)HTCe)/, V7T0 

z-rovo-ictv zTt7rrov ra-v roiwrw £vvcL[, &c K*/ yap aTrohSovQ to 7rvrj/uLX 

I7tl TO) <TTAVpCH)j U7TS, TlaTSp, UQ X' l P X ^ <T0V 7rU.p'J.TlQz t Um TO 7TVW (J.A (J.0V, 

Justin, contr. Tryph. p. 333. 

t Ksa' ot fAzrct xoyou @>icot*vtk Xpio-Tictvoi iio-iv kzv aQtoi hofxiT^no-dLV olciv 
h l E\x»ri [j.iv ^EtoKficLniSi KAi 'HpuxtetTc;' Ati ol ofAOiot <x}jtoi$ h fizpftzpoi; efs 
AfipxsL/ut, &c. — Id. Apol. 2, p. 83. 

■t Ol h /usrct xoycu $iG6<ra.vTz; nit Qtowrts, Xpirrixvoi, nil d<pofiu, kii 
drxpz^ot vTrap^owTi. — Idem. 

§ Manifestum est, quia et discipulorum ejus, propter quos et Iisrc 
operatus est Dominus, animae abibunt in invisibilcra locum, definitum 



that of the Valentinians and Gnostics, which he had 
before produced in the beginning of that chapter of 
his, who held that the souls of men, immediately after 
they had departed out of the body, were carried up 
above the heavens and the Creator of the world; and 
went to that Mother or that Father which these here- 
tics had fancied to themselves. This opinion of theirs 
is in like manner rejected by Justin Martyr, in the 
passage a little before quoted out of his book against 
Tryphon.* Whence it plainly appears (that we may 
not trouble ourselves to produce any other proofs) 
that Justin and Irenseus were both of the same belief 
as to the state of the soul after death. 

But to return to Irenaeus. In his second book 
against Heretics, he maintains very strongly, that 
" Our Saviour Christ was above forty years of age, 
when he suffered death for us:"t alleging in defence 
of this opinion of his, which so manifestly contradicts 
the evangelical history, certain probabilities only ; as, 
" That our Saviour passed through all ages, as having 
come to the world to sanctify and save people of all 
ages;" urging also those words of the Jews to our 
Saviour, " Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast 
thou seen Abraham?"! In conclusion he says that 
" St. John had delivered it by tradition, to the priests 
of Asia, that Christ was somewhat aged when he be- 
gan to preach, being then about the age of forty or 
fifty years." This fancy of his appeared so ridiculous 
to cardinal Baronius, that (notwithstanding the faith 
of all the copies of this Father, and the context, which 
appears evidently to be his, together with the vein 
and marks of his fancy and style,) he has had the 
confidence to say, that this whole passage had been 
foisted into the text of Irenaeus, either by some igno- 
rant or some malicious person, and that it was not 
Iren9eus'sown.§ But it seems he had no great reason 

eis a Deo, et ibi usque ad renurrectionein commorabuntur, sustinentes 
resurrectionem, &c. — Iron. L 5, contr. Hceres c. 26. 

* Justin, contra Tryph. p. 307. 

t Iren. cont. Hser. 1. 2. c. 39. X John viii. 57. 

§ Baron. Annal. t. 1. an. 34. num. 137. 


for his suspicion ; as the Jesuit Petavius has clearly 
made it appear in his notes upon Epiphanius.* 

However, you may hence perceive that Baronius 
thinks that very possible which we have endeavoured 
to prove in the former part of this treatise ; namely, 
that there may possibly have been very many and 
great alterations and corruptions in the books of the 
writers of the first ages, by many passages and clauses 
having been either inserted in them, or else malicious- 
ly erased out of them. 

Irenseus holds and endeavours to prove in the same 
book, " That the souls of men, after death, retain the 
character (that is to say, the figure) of the bodies to 
which they were formerly united, and that they re- 
present the shape of the said bodies, so that they can 
be recognized."! 

I shall here pass by that which Irenseus seems to 
mean in the forty-ninth chapter of the same book ; 
that our Saviour Christ did not at all know when the 
day of judgment should be; according to either of his 
natures; although these words of his look as if they 
would very hardly be reconciled to any good mean- 
ing. Nor shall I yet take notice of what both he and 
Justin Martyr have in divers places so rashly averred, 
as regards the strength of human nature, in the busi- 
ness of salvation;! because I conceive with Cassan- 
der,§ that all those passages may, and indeed ought 
to be understood, with respect to the scope and drift 
of these authors; whose business was to confute those 
heretics of their time, who maintained that there 
was a fatal necessity in the actions of men, by this 
means depriving them of all manner of election or 

The great learning of Clemens Alexandrinus has 
not prevented him from falling into many errors: 
as for instance, where in divers places he says plainly, 

* Petav. in Epiphan. p. 145. 

t Animas, &c. characterem corporis, in quo etiam adaptantur cus- 
todire eundem ; et animas hominis habere figuram ut etiam cognos- 
cantur. — Iren. I. 2. contra Har. c. 62, 63. 

X Iren. contr. haec. 1. 2. c. 49. 

§ Cassand. in defens. libelli de Offic. Pii Viri. 


" That the heathen, who lived before the coming of 
our Saviour Christ, were justified by philosophy; 
which was then necessary for them; whereas it is 
now only useful to them; and that this philosophy 
was the schoolmaster of the Gentiles, which brought 
them to Christ, or served to guide them till the time 
of his coming: in like manner as the law did the 
Jews; and that the Greeks were justified by it alone; 
and that it was given to them as their covenant, be- 
ing a step to, and as it were a foundation laid for, 
Christian philosophy.* 

Clemens was of opinion also, " That our Saviour 
went down into hell, to preach the Gospel to the de- 
parted souls ;" and that He saved many of them; that 
is, all that believed: "And that the Apostles also, 
after their death, descended likewise into the same 
place, and for the same purpose;" conceiving that 
God otherwise would have been unjust and an accep- 
ter of persons; if He had condemned all those who 
died before the coming of his Son. "For (says he) 
if He preached to the living to the end they might 
not be condemned unjustly; why should he not, for 
the same reason, preach also to those who were de- 
parted this life before his coming ?t 

From these and the like considerations, Clemens 
concludes, that it was necessary that the souls of all 
the departed, Gentiles as well as Jews, should have 
heard the preaching of our Saviour, "and should 
have had the benefit of the same Dispensation, which 
he used towards others upon earth, in order either to 

* Hv jusv obv irpo rue <rov Kugicu 7rccpoucricig dc Jikiuoo-vvm l JLKKnnv avayndLict 

q>iXG<ro<pict, vuv efs ^^crtfAi) 7rpog Beo<refaizv yiHTcti 'ETrctiSayayzt yap kxi 

awn to l Exx»vutov, Ls b vofAog tovs 'Efipctiov; us XgurTov. Clem. Alex. Strom, 
lib. 1. K«6' i*urnv zSmaiou 7ro<rz kcu « qixoaoqi* Tovg 'Exxnvxs. Ibid. p. 117. 

T»V Si <$l\Q<TGq>ldLV XZl fJLiLXXOV l EXXWlV OlOV £lCL§i)KW 01H.UZV, dtVTOlg Jzfc<r8cLl, 

v7rofi>cx.$pidLv cvithv we Kara X/)/cttcv <pixo<To<pt!ts. — Id. lib. 6, Strom, p. 279. 
t KaBxTrtp loujaicvc tra^a-Bai zfiouXiro o fiso?, Tovg 7rpo<pHrccs SiScus, ovrcec 


<r*s. Id. p. 268. 'O Kvpiog zunyyexttraro kai rots ev aSov, &c. Id. Strom, 
lib. 6. p. 269. Kctt oi Amo-rcxa x,*Qa.7rtp hruuSx, ovtw k'ku (in inferis) 
rout toov \ftvw \7riT^nou; zU zTrio-rpoqw zbnyyzxio-cDiTo. Clem. Alex. Strom, 
lib. 6, p. 267. 'lvo-ovc hz tojvw tovs sv <rapx.i Sic*, tcvto ebuyyzxiTsii-o, ivct fxn 
KoLraJwcLo-bctHrtv cJtxces' 7rm cvv tgvs 7rpcz^zXnXu6oTag <ths 7rapov<n*<; abvou 
Six t»v etbrnv iutryytKio-ttTQ ctiriay, — Ibid. p. 271. 


their salvation, through repentance, or their just con- 
demnation for their impenitency."* 

He plainly maintains also, in several places of his 
works, that all the punishments, which God inflicts 
upon men tend to their salvation, and are sent them 
for their instruction and amendment; comprehending 
also within this number even those very pains which 
the damned endure in hell. Hence it is, that he some- 
where also affirms that wicked men are to be purged 
by fire; and to this does he refer the conflagration, 
spoken of by the Stoics; alleging also to this purpose 
divers passages out of Plato, and out of a certain phi- 
losopher of Ephesus, which I conceive to be Hera- 
clitus :t from all of which it clearly appears that he 
had the same belief as to the pains in hell that his 
scholar Origen had, who maintains, in an infinite 
number of places in his works, that the pains of hell 
are purgative only, and consequently are not eternal, 
but are to have an end, when the souls of the damned 
are once thoroughly cleansed and purified by this fire. 
He believes also, with Justin Martyr, that the angels 
fell in love with the first women, and that this love of 
theirs transported them so far, as to make them in- 
discreetly to discover to them many secrets which 
they ought to have concealed: — oi ayy^ot, bxsivol ol 

T'a aTtopp^T'a tfais yvvai^ov, &C J 

Clemens, quite contrary to Irenseus, who maintains 
that our Saviour Christ lived upon the earth to the age 
of fifty§ years, will have him to have preached in the 
flesh but one year only, and to have died in the thirty- 
first year of his age, — Ovm 7t%^ovtao ta npiuxovia, otrj 

IrfCO* OV £7t(l9s.\\ 

But since it is confessed by both parties, that there 
are many absurd tenets in this author, I shall not 
dwell any longer upon him. 

* T/ obv ou%t nzi iv aSovh civtm yiyovw ciaovojuiz, ivoc x.d.Kti 7rct<r*i a.l^v^at 
aKovrctcrcii ahvcv w^vy/udLvcs, a <rnv /uira.voinv hJet%a>vrcti, n tuv koXcitiv fmuictv 
uvcti, Si Ijv ovtci7ria-rriU(rctv, ojuoxoynTooriv. — Ibid. p. 270. 

t Id. Strom. 1. 5, p. 227. X Id. Strom, lib. 5, p. 227. 

§ [The Latin copy of Daille has forty, the French fifty.— Am. Ed.] 

II Clem. Alex. Strom, p. 127. 


As for Tertullian, I confess the fact of his turning 
Montanist has taken away very much of the repute 
which he before had in the Church, both for the fer- 
vency of his piety and for his incomparable learning. 
But besides that a part of his works were written 
while he was yet a Catholic, we are also to notice, 
that his Montanism put no separation between him 
and other Christians, except in point of discipline, 
which he, according to the austerity of his nature, 
chose to be most harsh and rigorous. As for his 
doctrine, he often declares that he constantly kept 
to the very same rule, and the same faith that the 
Catholics did:* whence proceeded that tart speech 
of his, " That people rejected Montanus, Maximilla, 
and Priscilla, not because they had any what departed 
from the rule of faith, but rather because they would 
have us to fast oftener than to marry."t And this is 
evident enough, from all those books which were 
written by him, during the time of his being a Mon- 
tanist; wherein he never disputes or contends about 
any thing, except about discipline. This is ingenuously 
confessed also, by the learned Rigault, in his preface 
to those nine books which he has lately published.:): 

Now, notwithstanding the great repute which this 
Father had in the Church, and his not departing from 
it in any thing, in point of faith; yet how many wild 
opinions and fancies do we meet with in his books? 
I shall here speak only of some of the principal of 
them, passing by his dangerous expressions on the 
person of the Son of God, as having touched upon 
this particular before. But how strange is his manner 
of discourse on the nature of God,§ whom he seems 
to render subject to the like passions with us; as to 
anger, hatred, and grief ? He attributes also to him 
a corporeal substance, and " does not believe (as he 

* Vid. lib. de Mon. cap. 2, &c et 1. contr. Psych, cap. 1. 

+ Si paracleto controversiam faciunt propter hoc, prophetiae novae 
recusantur, non quod alium Deum praedicant Montanus, et Priscilla, 
et Maximilla, &c, sed quod plane doceant soepius jejunare, quam 
nubere. — Id. contr. Psych, c. 10. 

t Nicol. Rigaltius Prolog, in animad. ad Tertul. 9. Tract. Lutet.1628. 

§ Tertul. 1. 1, adv. Marc. c. 25, et 1.2, c. 16. 


says) that any man will deny that God is a body;"* 
so that we need wonder the less that he so confident- 
ly affirms, " That there is no substance which is not 
corporeal:"! or that, with Justin Martyr and Clemens 
Alexandrinus, he attributes to the evangelical nature 
the carnal love of women: % which occasioned those 
words in that book of his, " De Virginibxis Velan- 
dis" — where he says, " That it is necessary that so 
dangerous a face should be veiled, which had scan- 
dalized even heaven itself."§ 

We need not, after this, wonder at his doctrine on 
the nature of man's soul, which he will have to be 
corporeal, and endued with form and figure, and to 
be propagated, and derived from the substance of the 
father, to the body of the son, and sowed and engen- 
dered with the body, increasing and extending itself 
together with it; || and many other the like dreams; 
in the maintaining of which he uses so much sublety, 
force, and eloquence, that you will, through the whole 
range of antiquity, scarce meet with a more excellent 
and more elegant piece than that book of his De Ani- 
ma. He also, with Irenseus, shuts up the souls of 
men, after they are departed this life, in a certain sub- 
terraneous place, where they are to remain till the 
day of judgment; the heavens not being to be opened 
to any of the faithful till the end of the world : only 
he allows the martyrs their entrance into Paradise, 
which he fancies to be some place beneath the hea- 
vens; and here he will have them continue till the 
last day. " It is thy blood (says he) which is the only 
key of Paradise. "11 And this place, whither the souls 

* Quis negabit, Deum corpus esse, etsi spiritus est ? — Id. adv. Orig. 
cap. 7, et I. 2, contra. Marc. c. 16. 

t Cum ipsa substantia corpus sit cujusque. — Id. lib. adv. Hermog. 
c. 35. 

X Angelos esse illos desertores Dei, amatores fceminarum. — Id. I. 
de Idol. cap. 9. 

§ Debet et adumbrari facies tarn periculosa, quae usque ad caelum 
6candala jaculata est. — Id. de Virg. Veland. cap. 7. 

|| Definimus animum dici statu naturam immortalem, corporalem, 
effigiatam, &c, et una redundantem, &c. — Ibid. lib. de. Anim. pas- 
sim: nominatim c. 22. 

tf Quo (in inferis) spes omnis sequestratur, tota Paradisi clavis 


of the departed go, is, according to him, to continue 
shut up till the end of the world. He is besides of a 
contrary opinion to that of Justin Martyr, spoken of 
before ; and maintains that all apparitions of the de- 
ceased are mere illusions and deceits of the devil; 
and that this inclosure of the souls of men shall con- 
tinue till such time as the city of the New Jerusalem, 
which is to be all of precious stones; shall descend 
miraculously from heaven upon the earth, and shall 
there continue a thousand years, the saints long living 
therein in very great glory; and that during this space 
the resurrection of the faithful is to be accomplished 
by degrees; some of them rising up sooner, and some 
later, according to the difference of their merits.* 
Hence we are to interpret what he says in another 
place, " That small sins shall be punished in men by 
the lateness of their resurrection:"! and, " That when 
the thousand years are expired, and the destruction of 
the world, and the conflagration of the day of judg- 
ment is passed, we shall all be changed in a moment 
into the nature of angels. "J 

I pass by his invectives against second marriages, 
and also his opinion against all marriage in general ; 
these fancies being a part of the discipline of Mon- 
tanus's Paraclete. But as to his opinions on the bap- 
tism of heretics, he has many fellows among the 
Catholic Fathers, who held the same; namely, that 
their baptism signified nothing: and therefore he never 
received any heretic into the communion of the Ca- 
tholic Church, without first rebaptizing him — " cleans- 

sanguis tuus est. Nulli patet ccelum, terra adhuc salva, ne dixerim 
elausa. — Id. lib. de an. c. 55, 56, 57, 58. 

* Nam et confitemur in terra nobis regnum repromissum post re- 
surrectionem in mille annos in civitate divini operis, Hierusalem coelo 
delata, &c. inter quam aetatem (1000 annorum) concluditur sancto- 
rum resurrectio, pro meritis maturius, vel tardius resurgentium. — 
Id. lib. adv. Marc. c. 24. 

t Modicum quoque delictum mora resurrectionis illic luendum. — 
Id. 1. de An. c. 58. 

t Post cujus mille annos, &c, tunc et mundi destructione, et judi- 
dicii conflagratione commissa, demutari in atomo in angelicam sub- 
stantiam ; scilicet per illud incorruptionis superindumentum transfere- 
mur in cceleste regnum, Sec— Id. lib. adv. Marc. c. 29. 


ing him (says he) both in the one and in the other man ; 
that is to say, both in body and soul, by the baptism 
of the truth, accounting an heretic to be in the same, 
or rather in a worse, condition than any pagan. "* 
As to others, he is so far from pressing men to the 
baptizing of their children while they are young, 
which yet is the custom of these times; that he al- 
lows, and indeed persuades to the contrary ; not only 
in children, but even in persons of riper years ; coun- 
selling them to defer it, every man according to his 
condition, disposition, and age.t And as his opinion, 
in this particular, is not much different from that of 
the Anabaptists of our time; so does he not much 
dissent from them in some other matters. For he will 
not allow, no more than they do, that a Christian 
should take upon him or execute any office of judica- 
ture, or "that he should condemn, or bind, or im- 
prison, or torture any man;" or that he should make 
war upon any, or serve in war under any other; say- 
ing expressly, " that our Saviour Christ, by disarming 
Peter, hath from henceforth taken off every soldier's 
belt: "J which is as much as to say, that the discipline 
of Christ allows not of the profession of soldiery. From 
which I cannot but wonder at the confidence (or rather 
the inadvertency) of some who would persuade us, 
from a certain passage of this author,§ which them- 
selves have very much mistaken, that this innocent 
and peaceable Father maintained, that heretics are to 
be punished, and to be suppressed by inflicting on 
them temporal punishments : which rigorous proceed- 
ing was as far from his thoughts as heaven is from 

* Apud nos ut ethnico par, imo et super ethnicum haareticus etiam 
per baptisma veritatis utroque homine purgatus admittitur, — Tertul. 
I. de Bapt. adv. Quint, c. 15.: et de Pudic. c. 19. 

t Itaque pro cujusque persona? conditione, ac dispositione, etiam 
state cunctatio baptismi utilior est, &LC.—Id. I. de Baptism, cap. 18. 

t Jam vero quae sunt potestatis, neque judicet de capite alicujus, 
vel pudore, (feras enim de pecunia,) neque damnet, neque praedam- 
net, neminem vinciat, neminem reeludat, aut torqueat, &c. omnem 
postea militem Dominus in Petro exarmando discinxit. — Id. lib. de 
Idol. c. 17. et 19, $c. et lib. 1, de Cor. Mil. c. 11. 

§ PameJ. in Scap. Tertul. c. 2. num. 15. et in 1. ad Scap. c. 2, num. 7. 


I shall acid here, before I proceed further, that Ter- 
tullian held that our Saviour Christ suffered death in 
the thirtieth year of his age,"* which is manifestly- 
contrary to the Gospel. He thought also that the 
heavenly grace and prophecy ceased in John the 
Baptist,t after the fulness of the Spirit was transfer- 
red to our Saviour Christ. 

Cyprian, who was Tertullian's very great admirer, 
calling him absolutely, the master, and who never 
let any day pass over his head without reading some- 
thing of him, J has confidently maintained some of the 
aforesaid opinions; among others that of the nullity 
of baptism by heretics, which he defends every where 
very strongly, having also the most eminent men of 
his time consenting with him in this point; as Firmili- 
anus metropolitan of Cappadocia,§ Dionysius bishop 
of Alexandria,|| together with the councils of Africa, 
Cappadocia, Paraphilia, and Bithynia, notwithstand- 
ing all the anger and the excommunication also of 
Stephen bishop of Rome, who for his own part held 
a particular opinion of his own, allowing the baptism 
of all kinds of heretics, without re-baptizing any of 
them; as it appears by the beginning of the 74th epis- 
tle of St. Cyprian ;1T whereas the Church, about sixty- 
five years after, at the council of Nice declared null 
the baptism of the Samosatenians, permitting, as it 
seems, all other heretics whatsoever to be received 
into the Church without being re-baptized.** 

The Fathers of the second general council went yet 

* Christus annos. habens quasi triginta cum pateretur, &c. — Ter- 
tul. lib. adv. Jud. cap. 8. 

t Id. de Bapt. adver. Quint, cap. 10. 

t Vidi ego quondam Paulum, &c. qui se B. Cypriani, &c. Nota- 
rium, &c. Romae vidisse diceret, referrique sibi solitum, nunquam 
Cyprianum absque Tertulliani lectione unum diem prseterisse, ac 
sibi crebro dicere, Da magistrum, Tertullianum videlicet significans. 
— Hiero. I. de Script. Eccles. in Tertul. 

§ Cypr. Ep. 74. ad Steph. et alibi passim. 

|| Firmil. Ep. 75. inter. Ep. Cypr. 

f Hieron. lib. de Script. Eccles. 

** Tlzpt <tcvv U*uXt*vt<rx.VTa>v, tccti 7rpoaqvyovTW t» kclQoxim txKXwisf opoc 
iKTiQuTcci &v*fix.7rrigto-B*t auT«c \%'X7raLvros. — Con. Nic. Can. 19.— -Si quis 
ergo a quacunque haeresi venerit ad nos, nihil innovetur, nisi quod 


further, re-baptizing all those just as they would have 
done Pagans, who came in from the communion either 
of the Eunomians, Montanists, Phrygians, or Sabel- 
lians; or indeed any other heretics whatsoever, ex- 
cept the Arians, Macedonians, Sabbatians, Nova- 
tians, Quartodecimani, and Apollinarians; all which 
they received without re-baptization, as you may see 
in the Greek copies of the said council, canon seventh ; 
which canon also appears in the Greek code of the 
Church Universal, Num. 170. 

Thus you see that Stephen and Cyprian maintain- 
ed each of them their own particular opinion in this 
point ; the one of them admitting, and the other utterly 
rejecting the baptism of all kinds of heretics: whereas 
the two aforenamed general councils neither admitted 
nor rejected, save only the baptism of certain heretics 
only. Cyprian however seems to have dealt herein 
much more fairly than his adversary; seeing that he 
patiently endured those who were of the contrary 
opinion;* as it appears clearly by the Synod of Car- 
thage, and as it is also proved by Jerome :t whereas 
Stephen, according to his own hot choleric temper, 
declared publicly against Firmilianus's opinion,! and 
excommunicated all those that differed from himself. § 

The same blessed martyr of our Saviour Jesus 
Christ was also carried away with that error of his 
time, on the necessity of administering the sacrament 
of the holy eucharist to all persons when they were 
baptized, and even to infants also; as appears by his 
59th epistle,|| where, by the suffrages of sixty-five 
other bishops, he admits infants to baptism and the 
Lord's Supper, as soon as they were born; contrary 
to the opinion of one Fidus, who would not admit 

traditum est, ut manus illi imponatur ad poenitentiam, &c. — Cypr. 
ep. 74. init. uhi referuntur hac Siephani verba. 

* Neminem judicantes, aut & jure communionis aliquem, si diver- 
sum senserit, amoventes. — Cypr. Prce. Cone. Carth. 

t Hier. contra Lucifer, t. 2, p. 197, &c. 

X Firmil. ep. ad Cypr. quae est 75, inter ep. Cypr. p. 204. 

§ Cypr, ep. 74, p. 194, et ep. 75, quae est Firmil. 

j| Ut intra octavum diem eum qui natus est baptizandum, et sacri- 
ficandnm non putares. — Cypr. ep. 59, p. 137. 


them to these sacraments till the eighth day after they 
were born: — and also by that story of his which he 
tells us of a certain young girl, who being not as yet 
of years to speak, by a remarkable miracle put back 
the liquor which had been consecrated for the blood 
of our Saviour, and was presented to her by a deacon 
to drink in the church ; as judging herself unworthy 
to receive it, by reason that not long before she had 
been carried to the celebration of some certain pagan 

Now the original of this error of theirs was the 
belief they had, that the eucharist was as necessary to 
salvation as baptism ; as may easily be collected out 
of the words of the said author. Having first laid it 
down as the groundwork, " That no man can come 
into the kingdom of God, unless he be baptized and 
regenerated:"* he produces for a proof hereof, first 
that passage out of the third chapter of John, where 
it is said, " Except a man be born of water and of the 
Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God," &c. : 
and again, " Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of 
man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you;" 
urging the first of these texts to prove the necessity 
of baptism, and the other, of the eucharist; accounting 
each of them necessary to regeneration. Hence it is 
that we find him speaking so often of being " born 
again, by virtue of the one and of the other sacra- 
ment," by which words he does not mean baptism 
and confirmation (as some would persuade us,) but 
rather baptism and the Lord's supper, as is evident 
from the following words: "It is to very little pur- 
pose to be baptized, and to partake of the holy eucha- 
rist, unless a man proceed in the good works," &c.t 

I shall here pass by some words, which he has 
sometimes let fall on the baptism of heretics,:): from 

* Ad regnum Dei nisi baptizatus, et renatus quis fuerit, pervenire 
non posse ; in Evang. secundum Joan. — Id. I. 30. Qucest. ad Quir. 

t Parum esse baptizari et eucharistiam accipere, nisi quis factis et 
opere proficiat, al. perficiat. — Id. ibid. c. 26. 

$ Quando nee oblatio sanctificare illic possit, ubi spiritus sanctus 
non sit, nee cuiquam Dominus per ejus orationes et preces prosit, qui 
Dominum ipse violavit. — Id, ep. 63. 


which he seems to make the efficacy of the sacrament 
depend upon the integrity and sanctity of the person 
who administers it. 

We shall proceed, in the next place, to speak of 
Origen; but since there have been some since his 
time, who have very much decried both him and his 
doctrine, and others again on the other side w r ho have 
as strongly defended him, we shall forbear to say any 
thing of him that may engage us in a tedious discus- 
sion : we shall only observe, from this example of his, 
that neither the antiquity, nor the learning or holy life 
of any man necessarily prevents him falling into very 
strange and gross errors. For Origen was one of the 
most ancient among the Fathers, having lived about 
the middle of the third century; and having been so 
eminent for those two other excellencies of virtue and 
learning, that his fiercest adversaries cannot deny that 
he possessed them both in a very high degree. Nei- 
ther ought the story of his fall, related by Epiphanius,* 
to disparage the reputation of his virtue: for though 
perhaps it might have been true, yet has it frequently 
happened to others of the faithful to fall into great 
temptations, as appears evidently enough from the 
example of the apostle Peter himself. 

But that I may not dissemble, I profess myself much 
inclined to be of cardinal Baronius's opinion ;t who 
thinks this story to be an arrant fable, maliciously 
devised by those who envied the fame of this great 
and admirable man, and that it was foisted into Epi- 
phanius by some such hand; or else (as I rather 
believe,) was accredited by himself, and foisted into 
that book of his without any further examination, as 
many other things have been; in the relating of which 
this Father has shown himself a little over-credulous, 
as is truly observed by his last interpreter.^ 

Yet Origen, notwithstanding all those excellent gifts 
of his, has not hesitated to broach very many opin- 
ions, which by reason of their absurdity have been 

* Epiphan. 64. Harr. quae est Orig. 

t Baron. Annal. ad An. 253, num. 120. 122. 

t Petav. Not. ad Hcev. 55, p. 217. 


utterly rejected (and very deservedly so) by the Church 
in all succeeding ages : which is an evident argument, 
that however ancient, learned, and holy an author 
may have been, we ought not at once to believe him, 
and to urge him as infallible : since there is no reason 
in the world why the same thing which has befallen 
Origen in so many points, may not in some or other 
have also happened to any other author. But of this 
I am very well assured that those very men who 
have written against Origen, have not been so thor- 
oughly happy in their undertaking; but while oppo- 
sing some error of his, have sometimes fallen into as 
great a one of their own. One of them for example, 
Methodius by name, as he is cited by Epiphanius, 
maintains, that after the resurrection and final judg- 
ment, we shall dwell for ever upon earth, leading 
there a holy, blessed, and everlasting life, exercising 
ourselves in all good things, as the angels do in hea- 
ven. He also, as well as the rest, represents the 
angels as addicted to the love of women; and he will 
have God's providence to extend itself only to univer- 
sal causes, affirming that he has committed the care 
of particular things to the angels.* 

These opinions of Methodius, if they be thoroughly 
examined, will be found to be not much less danger- 
ous, and contrary to the Scriptures, than some of those 
which he reproves in Origen. 

For the same reason just assigned, I shall also pass 
by Eusebius, Didymus, Apollinaris, and others, who 
though they are ancient authors, yet there is usually 
little account made of them, by reason of the indiffer- 
ent opinion the greatest part of the Church had of 
them. The most ancient Fathers, (although perhaps 
their faith may not have been much freer from stains 
than that of others,) have yet been more favourably 
dealt with by posterity than their brethren; whether 

* Txpct^Qno-ecrBiu fjnv yap thv xti<7iv, ov juy,v aTroxucrQai 7rpca-Soiarrr,v 9 hirm 

aVcstK.'J.lV07r0lHQzV<T r i<; iV ^VWJaVOTrQlilbtVTl KOtTJUCO uyiU!T<T0l XVTTYXZ KSfTQlXHO-CtiJUZV. . . . 

Q.<r7np 6t jueia. ravra aapKu.v SQatrQevTzs, %ai rwrw ^vBpccTrw th qixoK-oiriav 

ofAiXno-AVTzg Bvyarpartv Iva thv /uzv 7ra.vnKtH.yiv xai yzviriMV e^oiv o Qiog 

<7a)v okodv 7r^cvota.v, thv St Sta fxepous ol im Tource ra^Qwrtg Lyyikoi* — Method, 
apud Epiphan. in Panar. Hser. 54, quae est. Orig. p. 555. 


it were because, the time they lived in being so far 
distant from the ages of our censors of other men, 
they have so much the less excited their envy and 
passion; or else because they were willing to spare 
them, by reason of the high opinion that the Church 
in general had of them. 

Lactantius Firmianus, whose repute was scarcely 
questioned among the ancients, had, notwithstanding, 
his errors. For it is long since Jerome observed a 
very strange one in him, in an epistle that he wrote 
to Demetrianus ; where he denies "that the Holy 
Ghost is a distinct person in the Godhead, subsisting 
together with the Father and the Son."* His other 
errors are not so dangerous, and are indeed common 
to him, with some other of the Fathers : as where he 
says, that the angels defiled themselves with women; 
and that from this their communion with them were 
born demons, or devils ;t as likewise where he teaches, 
" that the souls of men, after this life, are all shut up 
together in one common prison, where they are to 
continue till the day of judgment:"! and, "that our 
Saviour Christ shall come again upon the earth, before 
the last and final resurrection; and that those who 
shall then be found alive shall not die at all, but shall 
be preserved alive, and shall beget an infinite number 
of children, during the space of a thousand years; 
living all of them peaceably together, in a most happy 
city, which shall abound with all good things, under 
the reign of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of some ot 
the saints, who shall be raised from the dead."§ 

* Lactantius in libris suis, ut maxime in epistolis ad Demetrianum 
Spiritus Sancti omnind negat substantiam, et errore Judaico dicit, 
eum vel ad Patrem referri, vel ad filium, et sanctincationem utriusque 
personce sub ejus nomine demonstrari. — Hieron. ep. 65, ad Pam. et 

t Lact. Firm. lib. 2. divin. Instit. cap. 15. 

t Omnes (animae) in una communique custodia detinentur, donee 
tempus adveniat, quo maximus judex meritorum faciat examen. — Id. 
lib. 7, cap. 21, extr. 

§ Turn qui erunt in corporibus vivi, non morientur, sed per eosdem 
mille annos infinitam multitudinem generabunt, &c. qui autem ab 
inferis suscitabuntur, ii prseibunt viventibus velut Judices. — Id. lib. 
7, c. 24. 


But what will you say, if Hilary also himself, who 
flourished about the middle of the fourth century, has 
his tares also ; which are the more observable in him, 
in proportion as his estimation was greater among the 
ancients. The principal and most dangerous of all is 
that strange opinion which he held on the nature of 
Christ's body, which he maintained had no sense or 
feeling of those stripes and torments he suffered : " But 
that he really suffered indeed at that time when he 
was beaten, and when he was hanged upon the cross, 
and fastened to it, and died upon it: but that this pas- 
sion falling wholly upon his body, notwithstanding 
that it was a real passion, yet did not show upon him 
the nature of a passion; and that while the furious 
strokes were dealt upon him, the strength and vigour 
of his body received the force of the strokes upon it, 
yet without any sense of pain. I shall confess (says 
he) that the body of our Saviour had a nature sus- 
ceptible of our griefs, if the nature of our body be 
such, as that it is able to tread upon the water, and 
to walk upon the floods without sinking, or without 
the waters yielding to our footsteps, when we stand 
thereon: if it can penetrate solid bodies, or can pass 
with ease through doors that are shut."* And within 
two or three lines after he says, " Such is the man 
sent from God, having a body capable of suffering, 
(for he really suffered,) but not having a nature capa- 
ble of pain. When the blows (said he, a little before) 
fell upon him, or a stripe pierced his skin, it brought 
indeed with it the violence and impetuosity of passion, 
but yet it wrought no pain in him; in like manner as 
when a sword is thrust through and through the wa- 
ter, or through and through the fire, it goes through 

* Passus quidem Dominus Jesus Christus dum caeditur, dum sus- 
penditur, dum crucifigitur, dum moritur : sed in corpus irruens pas- 
sio, nee non fuit passio, nee tamen naturam passionis exercuit, dum 
et paenali ministerio ilia desaevit, et virtus corporis sine sensu pcenae 
vim poenae in se desaevientis excepit; habuit sane illud Domini corpus 
doloris nostri naturam, si corpus nustrum id naturae habet, ut calcet 
undas, et super fluctus eat, et non deprimatur ingressu, neque aquae 
insistentis vestigiis cedant: penetret etiam solida, nee clausae domus 
obstaculis arceatur. — Hilar, de Trinit. I. 10. 


indeed, and pierces the water or the fire, but it wounds 
it not ; these things having not a nature that may be 
wounded or hurt, notwithstanding that the nature of 
the sword be to work the said effect"* In conclu- 
sion, that you may not think this to be a sudden 
fancy, that he fell on by chance, before he was aware, 
you must know that he repeats the same thing in 
divers other places : as in his comment on the fifty- 
third Psalm: "The passion of Christ (says he) was 
undergone by him voluntarily, to make an acknow- 
ledgment that pains were due ; not that he that suf- 
fered was at all pained by them."t And again, in 
another place : " Christ is thought to have felt pain, 
because he suffered ; but he was really free from all 
pain, because he is God."J 

Only think now, to what all this tends, and what will 
become of our salvation, if the passion of our Saviour 
Christ, which is the only foundation whereon it is 
built, were but a mere imaginary passion, without any 
sense of pain at all. And, as one absurdity being 
granted, there will necessarily others always follow 
upon it, so has this strange peculiar fancy of his made 
him corrupt and spoil the whole story of our Saviour's 
passion. For he supposes that in that dismal night, 
wherein Christ was delivered up for our sins, all his 
anguish, his distress, and drops of bloody sweat, pro- 
ceeded not from the consideration of the torments, 

* Et homo ille de Deo est, habens ad patiendum quidem corpus, 
ut passus est ; sed naturam non habens ad dolendum. Naturae enim 
propria? ac suae corpus illud est, quod in coelestem gloriam transfor- 

matur in morte In quo quamvis aut ictus inciderit, aut vulnus des- 

cenderit, aut nodi concurrerint aut suspensio elevarit, afferunt qui- 
dem haec impetum passionis, non tamen dolorem passionis inferunt : 
ut telum aliquod, aut aquam perforans, aut ignem compungens, aut 
aera vlunerans, omnes quidem has passiones naturae suae infert, ut 
perforet, ut compungat, ut vulneret, sed naturam suam in haec passio 
illata non retinet, dum in natura non est vel aquam forari, vel pungi 
ignem, vel aera vulnerari, quamvis natura teli sit vulnerare, compun- 
gere, et forare. — Id. ibid. 

t Suscepta voluntarie est, (passio) officio quidem ipsa satisfactura 
poenali, non tamen pcenae sensu laesura patientem, &c. — Hilar, in Ps. 

X Putatur dolere, quia patitur ; caret vero doloribus ipse, quia Deus 
est.— Id. in Ps. 138. 



and the death which he was now going to suffer, (and 
indeed according to his account, since he will not allow 
him to have felt any pain, he ought not to be, nor in- 
deed could be, in any agony,) but rather from the 
fear he was under, lest his disciples, being scandalized 
at these sad sights, might possibly sin against the Holy 
Ghost, by denying his Godhead; and that from hence 
it was, that Peter, in his denial of his Master, used 
these words: " Non novi hominem;" (I know him 
not as man,) because that whatsoever is spoken against 
the Son of man may be forgiven.* So likewise in 
these words of our Saviour, " my Father, if it be 
possible, let this cup pass from me," his opinion is, 
that our Saviour did not here desire that he himself 
might be delivered from his passion, but rather that 
after he had suffered, his disciples might also suffer in 
like manner ;t that this cup might not rest at him, but 
that it might pass on to his disciples also ; that is to 
say, that it might be drunk by them in the same man- 
ner as he himself was now going to taste of it ; to wit, 
without any touch of despair or distrust, and without 
any sense of pain, or fear of death. 

What could have been written more coldly, or 
more disagreeing with the truth and simplicity of the 
Gospel? Yet I cannot sufficiently wonder at him, 
that having thus rarefied the flesh of our Saviour 
Christ into a spirit, he should in another place con- 
dense our spirits into bodies. " There is nothing 
(says he) which is not corporeal in its substance and 
creation, &c. For the species of our souls themselves, 
whether they be united to the body, or are separated 
from them, have still a nature whose substance is cor- 
poreal. "J He believes also, that baptism does not 

* Scribit exterrendos, fugandos, negaturos ; sed quia spiritus blas- 
phemiae nee hie, nee in aeternum remittitur, metuit ne se Deum ab- 
negent, quern caesum, et consputum, et crucifixum essent contempla- 
turi ; quae ratio servata est in Petro; qui cum negaturus esset, ita 
negavit, Non novi hominem : quia dictum aliquod in filium hominis 
remittitur. — Hilar, in Matth. can. 31. 

f Transeat calix a me, id est, quomodo k me bibitur, ita ab iis 
bibatur, sine spei diffidentia, sine sensu doloris, sine metu mortis, 
&c. — Id. ibid. 

X Nihil est quod non in substantia sua, et creatione corporeum sit, 


cleanse us from all our sins ; and therefore he holds 
that all men must at the last day pass through the 
fire.* "We are then (says he) to endure an indefati- 
gable fire. Then is the time that we are to undergo 
those grievous torments for the expiation of our sins, 
and purging our souls. A sword shall pierce through 
the soul of the blessed Virgin Mary, to the end that 
the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. See- 
ing therefore that that Virgin, who was capable of 
receiving God, shall taste of so severe a judgment, 
where is he that dares desire to be judged of God?"f 

I know not whether he might heretofore have per- 
suaded any number of people to embrace this doc- 
trine of his or not; but sure I am, that were he alive 
at this day, he would take but a useless piece of labour 
in hand, if he should go about to win the Franciscan 
friars over to this belief. 

Ambrose, one of the most firm pillars of the Church 
in his time, is not more free than the rest from the 
like failings. For first of all, he agrees with Hilary in 
this last point, and maintains that all in general shall 
be proved by fire at the last day; and that the just 
shall pass through it, but that the unbelievers shall 
continue in it: "After the end of the world, (says he) 
the angels being sent forth to sever the good from the 
bad, shall that baptism be performed; when all ini- 
quity shall be consumed in a furnace of fire, that so 
the just may shine like the sun in the kingdom of 
God their Father. And although a man be such a 
one as Peter, or as John, yet nevertheless shall he be 
baptized with this fire. For the great baptizer shall 
come, (for so I call him, as the angel Gabriel did, say- 

&c. Nam et animarura species sive obtinentium corpora sive cor- 
poribus exulantium, corpoream tamen naturae suae substantiam sorti- 
untur. — Ser. in Matth. can, 5. 

* Est ergo quantum licet existimare, perfectae illius emundatio 
puritatis, etiam post baptismi aquas reposita, &LC.—Id. in Ps. 118, 
tit. Gimel. 

f In quo (die Judicii) nobis est ille indefessus ignis obeundus, in 
quo subeunda sunt gravia ilia expiandae a peccatis animae supplicia. 
Beatae Marias animam gladius pertransibit, ut revelentur multorum 
cordium cogitationes. Si in judicii severitatem capax ilia Dei Virgo 
ventura est, desiderare quis audebit a Deo judicari? — Id. ibid. 


ing, f He shall be great/) and shall see a multitude of 
people standing before the gate of Paradise, and shall 
brandish the fiery sword, and shall say unto those 
who are on his right hand, who are not guilty of any 
grievous sins, < Enter ye in/ " &c.* 

Ambrose says the same also hi another place, where 
he exempts none from this fiery trial, except our Sa- 
viour Christ alone: " It is necessary (says he) that all 
that desire to return into Paradise should be proved 
by this fire. For it is not without some mystery 
that it is written, that God having driven Adam 
and Eve out of Paradise, placed at the entrance of 
Paradise a flaming sword which turned every way. 
All must pass through the flames, whether he be 
John the Evangelist, whom our Saviour loved so 
much, that he said, concerning him, to Peter, &c. Or 
whether it be Peter himself, who had the keys of 
heaven committed to him, and who walked upon the 
sea; he must be able to say, 'We have passed through 
the fire/ &c. But as for John, this brandishing of the 
flaming sword will soon be despatched for him, be- 
cause there is no iniquity found in him, who was so 
beloved of the truth, &c. But the other (that is Peter) 
shall be tried as silver is, and I shall be tried like lead : 
I shall burn till all the lead is quite melted down, and 
if there be no silver at all found in me, (wretched 
man that I am) I shall be cast into the lowest pit of 

* Si quidem post consummationem soeculi missis angelis qui segre- 
gent bonos et malos, hoc futurum est baptisma, quando per caminum 
ignis iniquitas exuretur, ut in regno Dei fulgeant justi sicut sol, in 
regno Patris sui. Et si aliquis ut Petrus sit, ut Johannes, baptizatur 
hoc igne. Veniet ergo Baptista Magnus, (sic enim eum nomino, quo 
modo Gabriel, &c.) — Ambros. in Ps. 118, Ser. 5. 

t Omnes oportet per ignem probari, quicunque ad Paradisum re- 
dire desiderant. Non enim otiose scriptum est, quod ejectis Adam 
et Eva posuit Deus in exitu Paradisi gladium igneum versatilem. 
Omnes oportet transire per flammas, sive Joannes Evangelista sit, 
quern ita dilexit Dominus, ut de eo diceret ad Petrum, &c. Sive ille 
sit Petrus qui claves accepit regni coelorum, qui supra mare ambula- 
vit, oportet dicat, Transivimus per ignem, &c. Sed Joanni cito ver- 
sabitur igneus gladius, quia non invenitur in eo iniquitas, quern dilexit 
gequitas. &c. Sed ille (Petrus) examinabitur ut argentum; ego ex- 
aminabor ut plumbum, donee plumbum tabescat ardebo, si nihil ar- 


As for the resurrection of the dead, Ambrose's 
opinion is, that all shall not be raised at once, but by- 
degrees one after another, by a long yet certain order;* 
those who were believers rising first, according to the 
degrees of their merits: to which we are to refer that 
which he has elsewhere delivered, saying, that " Those 
who are raised up in the first resurrection, shall come 
to grace, without judgment; but as for the rest, who 
are reserved for the second resurrection, they shall 
burn with fire till they have fulfilled the full space of 
time between the first and the second resurrection: 
or if they do not finish this time, they shall continue 
very long in their torments."! 

I shall leave the reader to take the pains in ex- 
amining whether or not that passage of his can be 
reconciled to any good sense, where he says, that be- 
fore the publication of the law of Moses, adultery 
was not an unlawful thing: "We are to take notice 
in the first place (says he) that Abraham living be- 
fore the giving of the law by Moses, and before the 
Gospel, in all probability, adultery was not as yet for- 
bidden: the crime is punished after the time of the 
law made which forbids it; for things are not con- 
demned before the law, but by the law; J and whe- 
ther those discourses of his, which you meet with in 
his books, " De Instit. Virg. et ad Virg. et de Virg." 
and in other places, do not much reflect upon the hon- 
ourable state of marriage. I shall also leave to the 
consideration of the judicious reader whether there 

genti in me inventum merit, (heu me) in ultima inferni detrudar. — 
Id. in Ps. eund. ser. 20. 

* Licet in momento resuscitentur omnes, omnes tamen meritorum 
ordine suscitantur. — 1. I. de Fid. Resurrectionis. 

t Beati qui habent partem in prima resurrectione; isti enim sine 
judicio veniunt ad gratiam. Qui autem non veniunt ad primam re- 
surrectionem, sed ad secundam reservantur, isti urentur donee im- 
pleant tempora inter primam et secundam resurrectionem : aut si non 
impleverint, diutius in supplicio permanebunt. — Id. in Ps. 1. 

X Sed consideremus primiim, quia Abraham ante legem Moysis et 
ante Evangelium fuit nondum interdictum adulter ium videbatur. 
Poena criminis ex tempore legis est, quae crimen inhibuit, nee ante 
legem ulla rei damnatio est, sed ex lege. — Ambros. I. 1. de Abr. 
Pair. c. 4. 


be more of solidity or of subtlety in that exposition 
which he gives us, of the promise made by God to 
Noah, after the flood; telling him that he had set his 
bow in the clouds, to be a token of a covenant be- 
tween him and the whole earth. On these words 
Ambrose utterly and positively denies that by this 
bow is meant the rainbow ; but will have it to be I 
know not what strange allegorical bow. " Far be it 
from us (says he) that we should call this God's bow; 
for this bow, which is called Iris is seen indeed in the 
day-time, but never appears at all in the night."* 
And therefore he understands by this bow, the in- 
visible power of God, by which he keeps all things 
in one certain measure ; enlarging and abating it as 
he sees cause. Neither do I know whether that opin- 
ion of his, which you have in his first book " Be Spi- 
ritu Sa?icto" is at all more justifiable, where he 
affirms that "Baptism is available and legitimate, 
although a man should baptize in the name either of 
the Son or of the Holy Ghost only, without mention- 
ing the other two persons of the Trinity."t 

Epiphanius, as he was a man of a very good, 
honest, and plain nature, and (if I may be permitted 
to speak my own opinion) a little too credulous, and 
moreover very sanguine and fierce in maintaining 
Whatever he thought was right and true; so has he 
the more easily been induced to deliver and to receive 
things for sound which yet were not so ; and pertina- 
ciously to defend them, after he had once embraced 
them. It would take up both too much time and 
paper, if I were to enumerate all those things wherein 
he failed :. if you choose you may have an account of 
a number of them in the notes of the Jesuit Petavius, 
his interpreter; who takes the liberty to correct him 
frequently, and sometimes also very rudely. Thus 
first of all he accuses him of obscurity, and of false- 
hood also, in the opinion he held on the year and day 

* Absit ut hunc arcum Dei dicamus ; hie enim arcus, qui Iris dici- 
tur, per diem videri solet, per noctem non apparet, &c. Est ergo 
virtus invisibilis Dei, &c. — Id. lib. de Noe, et Area, c. 27. 

t Id. lib. 1. de Spir. Sanct. cap. 3. 


of our Saviour's nativity;* saying that some of his 
expressions regarding this point, are more obscure 
and dark than the riddles of the Sphinx. Truly he 
has reason enough to say so, of what he has delivered 
on the year of our Saviour's nativity; but as for the 
day of that year, whether it were the sixth of Janua- 
ry, as Epiphanius held, with the Church of Egypt ;t 
or else it were the twenty-fifth of December, which is 
the general opinion at this day; I think it very great 
rashness for any man to affirm either the one or the 
other; neither of these opinions having any better 
ground than the other. He likewise in plain terms 
gives him the lie, upon that place where he says that 
" In the beginning of the Church the apostles had 
ordained that the Christians should celebrate the Pass- 
over at the same time and in the same manner as 
those of the Circumcision did; and that those who 
were then made bishops at Jerusalem being of the 
Circumcision, it was necessary that all the world 
should follow them, and should likewise keep the 
Passover as they did."J Neither do I see whereon 
he could ground that fancy of his, which he proposes 
to us as a certain truth : " That the devil, before the 
coming of Christ, was in hopes of grace and pardon; 
and that out of this persuasion of his, he never showed 
himself all that while refractory towards God; but 
that having understood, by the manifestation of our 
Saviour, that there was left him no hope of salvation, 
he from thenceforth had grown exceedingly enraged, 
doing as much mischief as he possibly could against 
Christ and his Church. "§ 

Jerome, the boldest and most judicious censurer of 
the ancients, has also left to posterity something, 
whereon they may exercise the same sacred criticism 

* Petav. in Epiphan. p. 127, 132. 

f Epiphan. Haer. 51, quae est Alog. T. 1. p. 446. 

I Petav. ibid, ad Haer. 70, num. 10. 

§ 'Haovi yap dti rav Trpoqurav Kurayytwovruv rcu Xpurrcv 7rctpov<riav 
MTfceo-iy \tou.zuv <tu>v a/tA>tf><THcrciV'Ta)v, *ai Sin. Xpt<rvov /uera-VoowToev, hofAi^i 
<TZ'<Tiv£z>rBu.i rivo; zhiou;. 'Ore dg iifev o ntxzc rov Xptvrov /uh Se^cc/uwov 
Atnou mv 7rspi <TUT*)pi*s Irtrrpoqvv, &c. — Epiphan. in Pan. cap. 1. 
Haer. 39. 


that he has so happily employed upon others. For 
how should a man be able to make good that which 
he has affirmed so positively, respecting God's provi- 
dence, where he says, that it takes care of all men 
indeed in general, and also of each particular man; 
but not of other things, whether they be inanimate 
or irrational? " It is an absurd thing (says he) so to 
abase the majesty of God, as to make him take par- 
ticular notice how many gnats are bred, or die every 
hour ; and how many bugs, fleas, and flies there are 
through the whole earth: and how many fishes swim 
in the water; and which among the smaller fishes 
are to be a prey to the greater. Let us not be such 
foolish flatterers of God, as, by making his power 
descend even to the lowest things, to disparage our- 
selves; while we say, that his providence in like 
manner extends both to rational and irrational crea- 

I shall not examine here whether this opinion be 
justifiable or not: but this I am sure of, that you will 
hardly be able to make it good out of these words of 
our Saviour Christ — " Are not two sparrows sold for 
a farthing? and yet one of them shall not fall on the 
ground without your Father." Yet supposing that 
this opinion might be defended, it is however evident 
that this Father has dashed out a little too much, 
when he derides all those as fools and absurd people, 
who choose rather to adore the knowledge of God as 
infinite, than to bound it and make it finite: and for 
my part I should rather fear that there would be 
much more rashness in the one, than folly in the 

This same man, who here limits the knowledge and 
providence of God, in another place extends to infinity 

* Cseterum absurdum est ad hoc Dei deducere majestatem, ut sciat 
per singula momenta quot nascantur culices, quotve moriantur, quot 
cimicum et pulicum et muscarum sit in terra multitudo, quanti 
pisces in aqua natent, et qui de minoribus majorum praedae cedere 
debeant. Non simus tarn fatui adulatores Dei, ut dum potentiam 
ejus ad ima detrahimus, in nos ipsos injuriosi simus, eandem ration- 
abilium quam irrationabilium providentiam esse dicentes. — Hier. 
Horn. 1, in Abac. 


the presence of the souls of departed saints; not by 
any means suffering them to be confined and shut up 
in any certain place. The reason which he gives of 
this his opinion is indeed very wonderful : for " they 
always follow the Lamb (says he) wherever he goes; 
forasmuch therefore as the Lamb is present every 
where, we ought to believe that they also who are 
with the Lamb are present every where."* 

Where is the school of logic, however loose and 
remiss it may be, that would not give a scholar the 
ferula, if he should but offer to argue thus, confound- 
ing the divinity and the humanity of our Saviour 
together; and from that which is spoken in respect of 
the one, concluding that which is proper to the other? 
So in another place, in order to accommodate all the 
parts of an allegory to his purpose, he makes the souls 
of the blessed saints, and of the angels themselves, 
subject to sin.t 

I shall pass by what he has spoken so reproach- 
fully, both against marriage in general, and against 
second marriages in particular; where he uses such 
harsh expressions, that though we should, in explain- 
ing them, follow those very rules which he himself 
has laid down in an epistle of his written to Pamma- 
chius on this very subject — it seems notwithstanding 
an impossible thing to acquit him of holding the same 
opinion on marriage as Tertullian did, which was 
condemned by the Church as being contrary to the 
honour of marriage and the authority of the Scrip- 
ture. As for example, how much honey or sugar 
would be sufficient to sweeten that which he says, 
writing to a certain widow, named Furia, where he 
tells her, " That she was not so worthy to be com- 
mended, if she continued a widow, as she would be 
to be cursed if she married again : seeing she was not 

* Sequuntur Agnum quocumque vadit : si Agnus ubique, &c. et 
sic qui cum Agno sunt, ubique esse credendi sunt. — Hier. contra 
Vigil, torn. 2,^7. 161. 

f Nulli periculosum, nulli videatur esse blasphemum, quod et in 
apostolos invidiam venenum diximus potuisse subrepere, cum etiam de 
Angelis hoc dictum putamus, &c. — Id. ep. 164, ad Pam. t. 3. p. 210. 


able, being a Christian, to preserve that which many 
women of her family had done, being but Pagans."* 
These expressions of his he repeats again in the fol- 
lowing epistle, where he dissuades Ageruchia from 
marrying again ;t and for this purpose makes use of 
very unseemly comparisons; applying to those women 
who marry again, that proverb which Peter made use 
of in another sense — " The dog is turned to his own 
vomit again, and the sow that was washed to her wal- 
lowing in the mire." Is not this the same as if he 
in plain terms ranked second marriages among un- 
clean and polluted things? Not unlike this is that 
which he says in another place in these words : " I do 
not at all condemn those who marry the second, third, 
or (if any such thing may be) the eighth time: nay, 
more than this, I receive also even a penitent harlot." J 
Thus he places those women that marry a second 
time, in the same rank as those that submit to prosti- 
tution. And he is so full of such expressions as these, 
that the whole Canary islands themselves would hard- 
ly be sufficient to sweeten them. 

Certainly if Jerome had not believed that there was 
some uncleanness in marriage, he would never have 
been so unwilling as he was to speak out, and con- 
fess in plain terms that Adam should nevertheless 
have had carnal knowledge of Eve his wife, though 
they had both of them continued in their state of in- 
nocence^ which thing is evident enough to any one 
that considers the second chapter of Genesis, from 

* Ut non tarn laudanda si vidua perseveres, quam execranda, si id 
Christiana non serves, quod per tanta saecula Gentiles fceminae custo- 
dierunt. — Mox, p. 90; Canis revertens ad vomitum, et sus lota ad 
volutabrum luti. — Id. ep. 10. ad Fur. t. 1, p. 89 & 101. 

f Hflec brevi sermone perstrinxi, ut ostendam adolescentulam meam 
non praestare monogamiam generi suo, sed reddere ; nee tarn laudan- 
dam esse si tribuit, quam omnibus execrandam si negare tentaverit. — 
Id. ep. 11. ad Ageruch. t. 1, p. 101. 

X Non damno digamos, imo nee trigamos, et si dici potest octoga- 
mos; Plus aliquid inferam, etiam scortantem recipio pcenitentem. — 
Id. I. 1. adv. Jovin. p. 4. 

§ Quod si objeceris, antequam peccarent, sexum viri et foeminas 
fuisse divisum, et absque peccato eos potuisse conjungi, quid futurum 
fuerit incertum est, &c. — Id. lib. 1. adv. Jovin. p. 51. 


verse IS, to the end. Nevertheless this Father durst 
not positively affirm any such thing, fearing lest he 
might thus impose some uncleanness upon the state 
of innocence, in case he should have allowed them 
the use of marriage. Nor is his opinion more sound, 
on the eating of flesh, which being unknown to the 
world before the flood, was afterwards permitted to 
mankind; but (as he believes) in the very same man- 
ner as divorce was heretofore permitted to the Jews, 
only from the hardness of their hearts ; whence it fol- 
lows (as he also says in express terms) that it was 
abolished by our Saviour Christ, in the same manner 
as divorce and circumcision were. " And whereas it 
is objected against us by Jovinian, that God, in the 
second benediction, permitted the eating of flesh, 
which he did not in the first ; let him know, that as 
the liberty to put away a man's wife, according to the 
words of our Saviour, was not granted from the be- 
ginning, but was afterwards permitted to mankind, 
for the hardness of their heart ; in like manner was 
the eating of flesh unknown until the flood: but after 
the flood, the sinews and poisonous juices of flesh 
were thrust into our mouths, as the quails were given 
to the people of Israel murmuring in the wilderness."* 
Certainly divorce is a thing which is evil in itself, and 
is contrary to the creation of the man and woman, 
and to marriage also, which was instituted by God in 
Paradise; as is divinely proved by our Saviour, when 
disputing with the Jews on this point. If therefore 
the eating of flesh be like it, this also is evil and un- 
lawful in itself. Marcion, and the Manichees, could 
hardly have said more than this. 

In another place Jerome seems to be of opinion 
that our Saviour has utterly forbidden the use of an 

* Quod autem nobis objicit in secunda Dei benedictione comeden- 
darum carnium licentiam datam, quae in prima concessa non fuerat; 
sciat, quomodo repudium juxta eloquium Salvatoris ab initio non 
dabatur, sed propter duritiem cordis nostri per Moysem humano ge- 
neri concessum est, sic et esum carnium usque ad diluvium ignotum 
fuisse; post diluvium vero quasi in eremo murmuranti populo cotur- 
nices, ita dentibus nostris nervos, et virulentias carnis ingestas. — 
Hieron. lib. 1. adv. Jovin. 


oath to Christians,* which doctrine is evidently con- 
trary both to the Scripture and to reason. It will be 
a difficult matter also to clear him from the suspicion 
of that error, some traces of which, we have observed 
before, are apparent in Cyprian, respecting the efficacy 
of the sacraments. For only hear what he says. " The 
priests also, (says he) who serve at the Eucharist, 
and distribute the blood of our Saviour to his people, 
commit a great impiety against the law of Christ, in 
thinking that the Eucharist is made by the words and 
not by the life of the person who consecrates it; and 
that the solemn prayers only of th<? priests are neces- 
sary, and not their merits also."t 

On the state of the blessed after the resurrection, he 
says, though very faintly, that they shall live without 
eating. " What then, will you say (these are his own 
words,) shall we eat after the resurrection? I know 
not that, I confess; for we find no such thing written: 
yet if I were to speak my opinion, I do not think we 
shall eat/'J 

To give a judgment in general of this author, I do 
not know whether we may allow as being good, and 
perfectly conformable to the discipline of our Saviour 
Christ, the course which he usually observes in his 
disputations, wresting the words of his adversaries 
from the author's intention; and framing to himself 
such a sense as is not to be found in them; and then 
fiercely encountering this giant of his own making, 
mixing with it abusive language and sarcasms, and 

* Hoc quasi parvulis Judaeis fuerat lege concessum, ut quo modo 
victimas immolabant Deo, ne eas idolis immolarent, sic et jurare per- 
mitterentur in Deum; non quod recte hoc facerent, sed quod melius 
esset Deo id exhibere, quam daemonibus. Evangelica autem Veritas 
non recipit juramentum, &c. — Hier. Com. in Matth. t. 6. p. 15. 

t Sacerdotes quoque qui Eucharistae serviunt, et sanguinem Do- 
mini populis ejus dividunt, impie agunt in legem Christi, putantes 
Eucharistiam imprecantis facere verba, non vitam ; et necessariam 
esse tantum solennem orationem, et non sacerdotum merita. — Id. Com. 
in Soph. torn. 5, p. 489. 

X Ergo, inquies, et nos post resurrectionem comesuri sumus ? Nes- 
cio ; non enim scriptum est ; et tamen si quaeritur, non puto comesu- 
ros. — Id. ep. 61, ad Pammach. t. 2, p. 252. 


tart expressions borrowed from profane authors; in 
which kind of learning he was indeed very eminent. 
Augustine, in the contest he had with him/* said 
that the holy ceremonies of the Jews, though they 
were abolished by Jesus Christ, might yet notwith- 
standing in the beginning of Christianity be observed 
by those who had been brought up in them from their 
infancy, even after they had believed in Jesus Christ, 
provided they did not put their trust in them: because 
that salvation which was signified by these holy cere- 
monies, was imparted to us by Jesus Christ; which 
doctrine of his is both godly and consonant also to 
what is urged by Paul, in the first epistle to the Co- 
rinthians, and elsewhere, respecting Christian liberty, 
which both permits and commands us to use or abstain 
from such things as are in themselves indifferent, ac- 
cording as shall be requisite for the edification of our 
neighbour. Now Jerome here would make us believe, 
that his meaning is, that all those who believed, among 
the Jews, were subject to the law, and that the Gen- 
tiles were the only people whom the faith in Christ 
had exempted from this yoke.t Then presently he 
takes occasion to pass as tart and cutting a sarcasm 
upon him as he could ; saying, that since it was so 
that all the believers among the Jews were bound to 
observe the law, Augustine himself, who was the 
most eminent bishop in the whole world, ought to 
publish this his opinion, and to endeavour to bring 
over all his fellow bishops to be of his mind. But he 
had then to deal with an able adversary, and one that 
knew well enough how to clear his words from that 
interpretation which the other had put upon them, 
and to retort upon him whatever he had impertinently 
urged against him ; as any man may perceive in that 
excellent and divine answer of his to Jerome, on this 

* Aug. Ep. ad Hier. quae est 87, inter Ep. Hier. torn. 2. p. 518. 

f Hoc si placet, imo quia placet, ut quicunque credunt ex Judreis 
debitores sintlegis faciendae ; tu, ut Episcopus in toto orbe notissimus, 
debes hanc promulgare sententiam, et in assensum tuum omnes co- 
episcopos trahere. — Hier. Ep. 89, ad Aug. t. 2, p. 525. 


point, and the whole substance of his letters.* The 
case was otherwise between him and Ruffinus : for 
there he grappled with one much below his match, 
and dealt his blows upon a mere wooden statue : one 
that had scarcely any reason in what he said, and yet 
much less dexterity in defending himself. But the 
sport of it is. to see that after he has handsomely be- 
laboured and goaded this pitiful thing, from head to 
foot, and sometimes till the blood followed, he at 
length protests, at the end of his first book, " That he 
had spared him for the love of God, and that he had 
not afforded words to his troubled breast, and had set 
a watch before his mouth ; according to the example 
of the Psalmist."! 

In another place he reads him a long lecture,^ tell- 
ing him that they were not to use railing language in 
their disputations, nor to leave the question in hand; 
and to labour to bring in what accusations they could 
against each other, which are more proper at the bar 
than in the Church, and fitter to fill a lawyer's bill 
than a churchman's papers. 

'Tis true indeed, that those who have been galled 
by him, are themselves to blame ; forasmuch as he, 
out of his own candid disposition, courteously gave 
them warning himself; telling them beforehand, " That 
those that meddled with him had to do with a horned 
beast."§ Yet some perhaps may still very much won- 
der how it should come to pass, that all those watch- 
ings and that strict discipline which he endured in 
Bethlehem and the Desert of Arabia, should not have 
mortified these horns : to which I have no more to 
say than this ; that God by a certain secret and wise 

* Aug. Ep. ad Hier. quas est 97, inter Ep. Hier. torn. 2. p. 550. 

t Sentisne quid taceam, quod aestuanti pectori verba non commo- 
dem? et cum Psalmista loquar, Pone Domine custodiam ori meo, &c. 
— Hier. lib. 1, contra Ruff. t. 2, p. 311. 

X Quis omissa causa in superflua criminum objectione versatus est ? 
quae non chartae ecclesiasticae, sed libelli debent Judicum continere. — 
Id. in Apol. adv. Rvff. torn 2, p. 373. 

§ Hoc unum denuncio, et repetens iterum iterumque monebo, cor- 
nutam bestiam petis. — Id. Apol. 1, contra Ruff. t. 2, p. 311. 


judgment, has suffered these holy men, notwithstand- 
ing all those excellent gifts of charity, patience, and 
meekness, wherewith they were abundantly endued, 
sometimes to let fall such slips as these on particular 
occasions; to let us understand, that there is nothing 
absolutely perfect but God alone ; all men, however 
accomplished, carrying about them some relics of hu- 
man infirmity. 

However it be, this course of Jerome's makes me 
doubt whether he has dealt any better with others 
than he has with Augustine, wresting their words 
much further than he ought to have done. But 
sometimes he goes further yet, and speaks even of 
the penmen of the Old and New Testament in such a 
disrespectful manner, that I am very dissatisfied with 
his proceedings. As for example, where he says, in 
plain terms, without any circumlocution, that " the 
inscription of the altar at Athens was not expressed 
in those very words which were delivered by Paul, 
in Acts xvii. to the unknown god; but in other 
terms thus; to the gods of Europe, asia, and 


where he tells us, and repeats the same too in many 
several places, that Paul knew not how to speak, nor 
to make a discourse hang together:! and "that he 
makes solecisms sometimes; and that he knew not 
how to render a hyperbaton, nor to conclude a sen- 
tence:"! and " that he was not able to express his 
own deep conceptions in the Greek tongue : and that 
he had no good utterance, but had much ado to de- 
liver his mind."§ Again, in another place he tells us, 

* Inscriptio autem arse non ita erat, ut Paulus asseruit, ignoto deo ; 
sed ita : deis europ^e, asi^e, et afric^e, deis ignotis et peregrinis. — 
Hier. Com. in Ep. ad Tit. t. 6. p. 450. 

t Hebraeus ex Hebraeis profundos sensus aliena lingua exprimere 
non valebat. — Hier. Com. 3, in Ep. ad Gal. p. 348, t. 6. 

t Iste qui solcecismos in verbis facit, qui non potest hyperbaton 
reddere, sententiamque concludere, audacter sibi vendicat sapientiam, 
&c. — Id. Comm. 2, in Ep. ad Ephes. t. 6. p. 384. 

§ Qui non juxta humilitatem, ut plerique aastimant, sed vere dixe- 
rit, imperitus sermone, non tamen scientia, Hebraeus ex Hebraeis, &c. 
profundos sensus Graeco sermone non explicat, et quid cogitat, in 
verba vix promit. — Com. in Ep ad Tit. t. 6. p. 440. 


that " It was not out of modesty, but it was the plain, 
naked truth that he told us, when the apostle said of 
himself, that he was imperitus sermone, (rude in 
speech;) because the truth is, he could not deliver his 
mind to others in clear language. "* 

He says moreover, (which is yet much worse than 
all the rest) that " the apostle, disputing with the Gala- 
tians, became a fool, as knowing them to be a dull, 
heavy people ; and that he had let fall some such ex- 
pressions as might possibly have offended the more 
intelligent sort of people, had he not beforehand told 
them, that he spake after the manner of men."t Who- 
soever shall have had but the least taste of the force 
and vigour, and of the candour of the spirit and dis- 
course of this holy apostle, can never see him thus 
used, without being extremely astonished at it: espe- 
cially if he but consider, that this kind of speeches, 
although they had perhaps some ground (which yet 
they have not,) must needs give offence to the 
weaker sort of people; and therefore ought not to 
have been uttered, without some qualification and 
softening down. 

Augustine, I confess, is much more discreet in this 
particular, every where testifying (as there is very 
great reason he should) the great respect he bare to 
the authors of the books of the Holy Scriptures, and 
never speaking of any of them, whether of their style 
or sense, without singular admiration. But as to 
his private opinions, and those of other men which 
he embraces, he is not without his errors also. Such 

* Illud, &c. etsi imperitus sermone, &c. nequaquam Paulum de 
humilitate sed de conscientiae veritate, dixisse ; profundos enim et 
reconditos sensus lingua non explicat, et cum ipse sentiat, quid lo- 
quatur, in alienas aures puro non potest transferre sermone. — Ep. 15, 
ad Algas. Q. 10, t. 3. p. 167. 

t Apostolus Galatis quoque, quos paulo ante stultos dixerat factus 
est stultus : non enim ad cos his usus est argumentis, quibus ad Ro- 
manos, sed simplicioribus, et quae stulti possent intelligere, et pene 

de trivio Unde manifestum est id fecisse Apostolum quod 

promisit nee reconditis ad Galatas usurn esse sensibus, sed quotidi- 
anis, et vilibus, et quae possent, nisi praemisisset, secundum hominem 
dico, prudentibus displicere. — Id. Com. 1. Ep. ad Gal. t. 6, p. 304, 


is that harsh sentence of his, which he has pronounced 
upon all infants that die before baptism; whom he 
will have not only to be deprived of the vision of 
God, which is the punishment to which the ordinary 
opinion condemns them; but he will further have 
them to be tormented in hell.* In this he is also fol- 
lowed by Gregorius Ariminensis, a famous doctor in 
the schools,! where he is called, by reason of this 
rigour of his, Tormentum infantium. Augustine 
maintains also, that the Eucharist is necessary for 
infants, as we have formerly noted to another pur- 
pose. To which we must also add that opinion to 
which he evidently inclines, that the soul is derived 
from father to son,± and is engendered of his sub- 
stance as well as the body, and is not immediately 
created by God, which is the common opinion at this 
day. There is no man but knows that he every where 
attributes to the angels a corporeal nature ;§ and also 
that he conceives, against all sense and reason, that 
the whole world was created all in an instant of time ;|| 
and refers the six days' space of time, wherein the 
creation is said to have been perfected, to the differ- 
ent degrees of the knowledge of the angels. He be- 
lieved also, with most of the ancient Fathers, that the 
souls of men departed are shut into I know not what 
secret dark receptacles, where they are to remain from 
the hour of their departure till the resurrection. IT 

We need not trouble ourselves any further in prov- 
ing that he also might err in matters of religion, see- 
ing that himself has made so clear and so authentic a 
confession thereof, in his Retractations, where he 

* Aug. t. 10. Ser. 14. de verb. Apostolu 

t Greg. Arim. in 2. sent. d. 33. q. 3. 

X Aug. t. 2. Ep. 28. tot. Mox. F. 21. M. T. 3. de Gen. ad lit. lib. 
10. c. 11. t. 7. c. 2, de An. et ejus Orig. c. 14. 

§ See also toward the latter end of this chapter. — Id. t.l.l.l. contr. 
Acad. c. 7. 

|| Id. t. 3. 1. imperf. de Gen. ad lit. c. 7. et lib. 4. de Gen. ad lit. c. 
31—34, et 1. 5. c. 11. 

H' Tempus quod inter hominis mortem et ultimam resurrectionem 
interpositum est, animas abditis receptaculis continet, &c. — Id, t. 5. 
Ench. ad Laur. cap. 109. Vide et t. 4. c. de curd pro mortuis. c. 2. 
I. 1. de Civit. Dei, c. 12. t. 9. Trac. 49. in Joan.fol. 74. 



corrects many things which he had formerly written, 
either foreign to or against the truth. 

I must here confess also, that in my opinion it 
would have added very much to the great and high 
esteem which we generally have of his learning and 
worth, if he had been more positive and more re- 
solved in the decision of matters which he has treat- 
ed, for the most part after the manner of the Aca- 
demics, doubtingly, and waveringly all the way; 
insomuch that he leaves undecided not only whether 
the sun and the other stars be endued with reason, 
but also whether the world itself be a living creature 
or not* 

He that will but critically and carefully read the 
rest of the Fathers, may very easily observe in their 
writings various errors of a similar nature; and a 
man will scarcely meet with any one Father of re- 
pute, from whom something of this kind has not es- 
caped. As for my own part, who have taken upon 
me this troublesome subject very unwillingly, I shall 
content myself with these few instances already set 
down, seeing they do, in my judgment, make this busi- 
ness very clear; the discovery whereof I have been 
obliged to undertake, though I wish rather they had 
been concealed. For seeing that these so eminent 
persons, who were of the greatest repute amongst all 
the ancients, have through human infirmity fallen in- 
to such errors in point of faith; what ought we to ex- 
pect from others who come much behind these in an- 
tiquity, learning, and holiness of life ? Since Justin 
Martyr, Irenseus, Clemens Alexandrinus, Tertullian, 
Cyprian, Lactantius, Hilary, Ambrose, Jerome, Au- 
gustine, and Epiphanius, (that is to say, the most emi- 
nent and most approved persons that ever were,) 
have yet stumbled in many places, and utterly failed 
in others; what are we to expect of Cyril, Leo, Grego- 
rius Romanus, and Damascene, who have come after 
them, and in whom have appeared both much less 
talent and sanctity, than in the former? Besides, if 

* Id. t. 3. Enchir. ad Laur. c. 58. de Gen. ad lit. 1. 2. c. 18. Id. 1. 
1. Retract, c. 11. 


these holy men have been mistaken in matters of 
such great importance; (some of them, for instance, 
on the nature of God; some on the humanity of our 
Saviour Christ; others on the quality of our souls; 
and some on the state and condition thereof after 
death, and on the resurrection;) why must they needs 
be infallible, when they speak of the points now dis- 
puted amongst us? Why may not the same thing 
have happened to them in the one case that has so 
manifestly befallen them in the other? It is not prob- 
able (as we have said before) that they so much as 
ever thought of our differences : and it is much more 
improbable, that ever they had any intention of being 
our judges in the decision of them, as we have before 

But now suppose, that they were acquainted with 
the business, and that they did intend to clear our 
doubts, and to give us their positive determination, 
regarding the same in their books ; who shall assure us 
that they have had better success here than they had 
in so many other things, wherein we have before heard 
them give their verdict so utterly against all justice 
and reason? He that has erred on the subject of the 
resurrection, is it not possible that he should be in an 
error on the state of the soul after this life ? He that 
could be ignorant of the nature of Christ's body, must 
he necessarily have a right judgment on the Euchar- 
ist ? I do not see what solid reason of this difference 
can possibly be given. It cannot proceed but from 
one of these two causes, neither of which have yet 
any place here. For it happens sometimes that he 
who has failed on one subject, has succeeded better 
on another; by reason perhaps of his taking more 
heed to, and using more attention in the consideration 
of, the latter than he did in the former; or else be- 
cause one of the points is easier to be understood 
than the other. For in this case, though his attention 
be as great in the one as in the other, yet notwith- 
standing he may perhaps be able to understand the 
easy one, but shall not be able to master the difficult 
one. But now, neither of these reasons can be al- 


leged here : for why should the ancients have used 
less care and attention in the examination of those 
points wherein they have erred? Or why should 
they have used more in those points, which are at 
this day controverted amongst us? Are not those an- 
cient points of religion of as great importance as 
these latter? Is there less danger in being ignorant 
of the nature of God, than of the authority of the 
Pope? or of the state of the faithful in the resurrec- 
tion, than of the punishment of souls in purgatory; 
the real qualities of the body of Christ, than the na- 
ture of the eucharist; the cup of his passion, than the 
cup of his communion ? Is it more necessary to sal- 
vation to know him sacrificed upon the altar, than 
really suffering upon the cross? Who sees not that 
these matters are of equal importance? or if there be 
any difference betwixt them, that those points where- 
in the Fathers have erred, are in some sort more im- 
portant than those which we now dispute about? 

We shall therefore conclude, that if they had both 
before their eyes, they would questionless have used 
as much diligence at least, and attention in the study 
of the one as of the other; and consequently in all 
probability would have been either as successful, or 
else have erred as much, in the one as in the other. 

Neither may it be here objected, that those points 
wherein they have failed, are of more difficulty than 
those others wherein these men will needs have them 
to have been certainly in the right: for whosoever 
shall only consider them more narrowly, will find 
that they are equally easy and difficult: or if there be 
any difference betwixt them in this particular, those 
which they have erred in, were the easier of the two 
to have been known. For I pray, is it not as easy to 
judge by reason, and by the Scripture, whether or 
not the saints shall dwell upon earth after the resur- 
rection; as it is to determine whether, after they are 
departed this life, they shall go into purgatory or not? 
Is it a harder matter to know whether the angels are 
capable of carnal love, than it is to judge whether the 
Pope, as he is Pope, be infallible or not? And if it 


be answered here, that the Church having already 
determined these latter points, and having not de- 
clared itself at all touching the other, has taken away- 
all the difficulty of the one, but has left the other in 
their former doubtful state, this is to beg the question; 
or rather it is manifestly false : the Church in the first 
ages having not, to our knowledge, passed any pub- 
lic or authentic judgment on the points now contro- 
verted, as we have already proved. 

As therefore these holy men, if they had any 
thought at all of our present disputes, had an equally 
clear insight in these things, and according to all rea- 
son and all probability, applied to them an equal 
attention and affection; I believe that there is no 
man but sees, that if they might err in the decision of 
the one, it is altogether as possible that they might be 
mistaken also in their judgment upon the other. Now 
those books of theirs, which are left us, proclaim 
aloud and openly, (as we have seen by those few 
testimonies, which we have but just now produced 
out of them,) that they have erred, and sometimes 
also very grievously on those first questions: it re- 
mains therefore to say, that their judgment is not a 
whit more infallible in our present controversies. 
Should you therefore demonstrate to any Protestant, 
by clear and undeniable reasons, that Hilary, in those 
passages which are produced out of his works for 
this purpose, has positively taught the real presence 
of Christ in the eucharist; and should he even grant 
you the same ; which yet perhaps he will never do ; 
after all, he has this still to remind you of, that this is 
the self-same Hilary, who in the same book main- 
tains, that the body of Christ felt no pain upon the 
cross. And if he was in an error in this particular, 
why must he necessarily be right in the other? The 
question on the body of Christ is of as great impor- 
tance as that of the eucharist : and it is besides much 
more clearly decided in the Scriptures; where there 
is nothing that obliges us in the least degree to fancy 
any such thing of the body of Christ, as Hilary has 
done : but where, on the contrary, there seems to be 


some kind of ground for the opinion which he is pre- 
tended to have had on the eucharist. Since therefore, 
(will the Protestant say) in a thing which is of equal 
importance, and of much less difficulty, he has mani- 
festly erred, who can assure me, that in this point, 
which is both less necessary and more difficult, he 
may not also be mistaken? The same has he to reply 
upon you, on those other allegations, which you pro- 
duce from the rest of the Fathers; every one of whom 
has either really erred, or else possibly might have 
erred, in matters of religion. Neither can you hope 
that any solid answer should be given to these things; 
especially if you but consider that the practice, both 
of the Fathers, and also of our adversaries themselves, 
has clearly confirmed this our position. For Augus- 
tine,* in that dispute of his which he maintained 
against Jerome, seeing him produce the testimonies 
of seven authors (taking no notice at all of the words 
of the first four of them) answers no more than that 
some of them were guilty of heresy, and the rest of 
error: which answer is very insufficient, unless you 
allow that the testimony of a man who has erred in 
any one particular point of faith is null and void. 

The Fathers of the second council of Nice took the 
very same course in answering an objection brought 
against them by the Iconoclasts, who alleged a cer- 
tain passage for themselves out of Eusebius bishop of 
Csesarea; answering them nothing more than that the 
author they cited was an Arian.t We need not ex- 
amine whether this answer of theirs be true or not : 
and if so, whether it be to the purpose or not: it is 
sufficient for us that it appears by their making use 
of this kind of answer, that they took it for granted 
that he that had failed in one point was not to be 
trusted in any other. Cardinal Perron, and the rest 
of the learned of that party, make use of the same 
manoeuvre, rejecting the testimonies brought against 
them out of Socrates or Sozomen, two ecclesiastical 

* Aug. Ep. ad Hier. inter Ep. Hier. 47. t. 2, p. 551, & inter Epist 
Aug. 19. t. 2. 

t Cone. VII. Act. 6. torn. 3. Cone. Gen. p. 627. 


historians, because they say they were Novatians. 
Those who published the general councils at Rome 
disauthorize Gelasius Cyzicenus, who was the com- 
piler of the acts of the council of Nice, by producing 
many gross oversights committed by him in that piece 
of his.* 

As therefore we are not to build upon the authority 
of any author who may justly be accused of error, it 
is most evident that the authority of the greatest part, 
and indeed in a manner, of all the Fathers, may very 
well be called in question : seeing that you will hardly 
find any one of them that is not liable to this excep- 

But it will here be objected perhaps, that although 
it be confessed that the opinion of one single Father 
possibly may be, and many times is, really false ; yet 
it is very improbable, or indeed impossible, that what 
has been delivered unanimously by many of them 
together, should be otherwise than true. But we 
have answered something already to this objection, 
where we took occasion to examine that maxim of 
Vincentius Lirinensis, on this particular. And in 
short, this is as if, having confessed that every par- 
ticular person of a company is sick of some disease, 
we should notwithstanding still deny that the whole 
company, taken altogether, can possibly fall into any 
common distemper of body. It is not indeed alto- 
gether so probable, that many should be sick of any 
disease, as that one single person should : yet neither 
is the thing altogether impossible, especially when the 
disease is contagious, and besides not so well known; 
as for the most part the errors of great persons are, 
whose very name bears them out, and makes them 
easily received by the ordinary sort, who run after 
them, and receive them without the least suspicion. 

Yet if reason be insufficient, let experience persuade 
us to receive this truth. For it is most evident that 
some of those errors before specified have been main- 
tained, not by one, nor by two, nor by three of the 

* In Praefat. praefixa Act. Cone. Niceni, Gelas. Cyzic. in edit. Rom. 
Cone. Gen. torn. 1. 


Fathers only, but by many, by the major part, and 
sometimes also by all the Fathers of the same age ; 
at least of all those whose names and writings have 
come to our hands. We have heard how Justin 
Martyr maintained the opinion of the Millennarians, 
which is manifestly false in itself, and very dangerous 
in its consequences. Now this opinion he did not 
maintain alone; the rest of the learned of his time 
were in a manner all of the same persuasion, as it 
appears by his own words. For, writing against 
Tryphon, and the Jews that agreed with him, he 
says, « If you by chance meet with some who bear 
the name of Christians, but do not believe this article 
of faith, but dare to blaspheme the God of Abraham, 
of Isaac, and of Jacob, and say that there is no resur- 
rection of the dead, but that the souls, immediately 
after death, are transported up to heaven, do not sup- 
pose these persons to be Christians, no more than, in 
speaking truly and precisely, the Samaritans, or any 
other sect of Judaism, are to be called Jews."* 

The false Christians, of whom he here speaks, were 
the Valentinians, and others of the Gnostics. He 
shortly proceeds, and says, " As for me, and the rest 
of us, who are perfectly orthodox Christians, we know 
that there shall be a resurrection of the flesh, and that 
the saints shall afterwards spend a thousand years in 
Jerusalem, which shall be rebuilt, beautified, and en- 
larged."! By which words he seems to testify that 
all the Catholics in his time maintained this erroneous 
opinion, and that the heretics only rejected it. I know 
very well that he confesses before, " that there were 
many who were perfect and religious Christians, who 
yet did not embrace the said opinion:" but let any 
man that can, reconcile these two contrary sayings: 

* E< yap KAt o-uvefiaxen v/uzic rto-t xeyojuevois Xptrrictvotc, kxj rovro jun 
ojuoxoyourtv, tiX\a x,*t fi\x<r<p>i]u.uv roxuaxrt rev Qeov Aj2pcca/u, kzi rev Qeov 
losLauty K'M rev Qioy IctKOofti el Koct teyou<rt juh dvai vmpoov avcte-rctriv, dh\st apt*. 
ra> 6.7rcQvy)cnteiv rag -\u")(ag abrm &v*Ka{A/2avz<rQcti si? rev obpstvev' juh u7ro\z@mt 
aureus Xpt<rriaveus t &c. — Just, contr. Tryph. p. 306. 

f 'Eyi, <f«, nai it rtvig tWiv epBoyvajuevt; actra Travra. XfKrrtavoi, text trapKeg 
avua-raa-iv ym<rt(rbcLt Wicroc/uSa, kcci X lKlcL * T * iv k 1epw<ra\)iju oIkg£g /unburn ^ 
nut Kca-fA^ua-n, Kai 7rx*ruvQei<r}i, &c. — Id. ibid. p. 307. 


" That all orthodox Christians held this opinion ;" and 
" That there were some of the orthodox party that 
did not receive the same:" — naMovs S 9 av xai n»v t^ 

Let any man that will, search also into Justin's 
works, and see whether this contradiction has not 
been foisted in, by the zeal of the following ages; 
who probably might take offence at seeing such an 
opinion fathered upon all the true Christians by so 
great a martyr. It is sufficient for us that it is clear 
from this passage, that a very great part of the doc- 
tors, and of the faithful people of those times, main- 
tained this error. We see that Irenaeus, who lived 
in the same time, and also Tertullian, who followed 
not long after him, were both of the same persuasion; 
no one, all this while, of whom we hear, offering to 
contradict them. Eusebius, and Jerome, and various 
other authors, inform us, that Papias bishop of Hiera- 
polis, who flourished about the year of our Lord 110, 
was the author of this opinion.t 

It follows then from hence, that the consent of all 
the Fathers that are now extant, who lived in the 
same age, and maintained all the same opinion, is no 
necessary argument of the truth. But if you go down 
lower, you will find that the very same error was de- 
fended by several doctors of very great repute in the 

Jerome, who in divers places of his commentaries 
has excellently and solidly refuted this foolish fancy, 
says,± that many among the learned Christians had 
maintained the same ; and to those whom we have 
already mentioned, he adds Lactantius, Victorinus, 
Severus, and Apollinarius, " who is followed in this 
point (says he in another place) by great multitudes 
of Christians about us, insomuch that I already foresee 
and presage to myself, how many men's anger I shall 

* Just, contr. Tryph. p. 306. 

t Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 1. 3, c. 39. Hieron. 1. de Scrip. Eccles. in 
Fapia. Tom. 1. p. 356. 

t Id. Comm. 11. in Ezech. t. 4, p. 984. 


hereby incur;"* that is, because he every where spoke 
against this opinion. 

Whence it plainly appears, that in Jerome's time 
(that is to say, about the beginning of the fifth centu- 
ry) this opinion generally prevailed in the Church. 
And indeed however fierce he seems to be in his on- 
set, yet he dares not condemn this opinion absolutely. 
" Although we embrace not this opinion, (says he) 
yet can we not condemn it ; forasmuch as there have 
been various eminent personages and martyrs in the 
Church, who have maintained the same. Let every 
man abound in his own sense, and let us leave the 
judgment of all things to God."t Whence you see, 
by the way, that the Fathers have not always held 
an opinion in the same degree that we do. For Je- 
rome conceived this to be a pardonable error, of 
which we at this day will not endure to hear. 

If it be here answered, that the Church in the ages 
following condemned this opinion as erroneous, this 
is no more than to say, that the Church in the ages 
following acknowledged that the joint consent of many 
Fathers together on one and the same opinion, is no 
solid proof of the truth of the same. If Dionysius 
Alexandrinus had been of any other judgment, he 
would never have written against Irenseus as he did; 
as Jerome also testifies^ in one of his books of Com- 
mentaries before cited. And if we are to have regard 
to authority only, the judgment of the succeeding 
church cannot then serve us, as a certain guide in this 
question, to inform us on which side the truth is : for 
to allege it in this case were rather to oppose one 
authority against another, than to decide the contro- 

As Dionysius Alexandrinus, Jerome, Gregory Na- 

* Quern (Apollinarium) nostrorum in kac parte duntaxat plurima 
sequitur multitudo, ut prsesaga mente jam cernam, quantorum in me 
rabies concitanda sit. — Id. Com. 18. in Esa. in Pr&fat. 

t Quae licet non sequamur, tamen damnare non possumus, quia 
multi ecclesiasticorum virorum, et martyres ista dixerunt : et unus- 
quisque in suo sensu abundet, et Domini cuncta judicio reserventur. 
— Hier. Com. 4. in Hierem. t. 4, p. 598. 

t Id. Com. 18, in Es. in Praefat. 


zianzen, and others, conceived not themselves bound 
to submit to the authority of Justin Martyr, Irenseus, 
Lactantius, Victorinus, Severus, and others; so nei- 
ther are we any more bound to submit to theirs: 
for their posterity owes them no more respect than 
they themselves owed to their ancestors. It seems 
rather that in reason they should owe them less; be- 
cause the further they are distant in time from the 
Apostles, who are as it were the spring and origi- 
nal of all ecclesiastical authority, so much do the cre- 
dit and authority of the Doctors of the Church de- 
crease. If antiquity (as we . said) be the mark of 
truth, then certainly that which is the most ancient is 
also the most venerable and the most considerable. 
And if there were no other instance but this, against 
the authority of many Fathers unanimously consent- 
ing in any opinion, yet would it clearly serve to lessen 
the same ; but there are yet behind many others, some 
of which we shall here produce. We have before 
seen Justin Martyr, Irenseus, Tertullian, and Augus- 
tine, affirming all of them that heaven shall not be 
opened till the day of judgment; and that, in the in- 
terval, the souls of all the faithful are shut up in some 
subterraneous place, except some small number of 
those who had the privilege of going immediately to 
heaven. The author of those Questions and An- 
swers, that go under the name of Justin Martyr, 
maintains the same opinion, as you may see in the 
answers to the 60th and 74th questions. 

That I may not unprofitably spend both time and pa- 
per in citing all the particular passages, I say in general, 
that both the major part, and also the most eminent 
persons among the ancient Fathers, held this opinion, 
either absolutely, or at least in part. For besides Justin 
Martyr, Irengeus, Tertullian, Augustine, and the au- 
thor of those Questions and Answers we before men- 
tioned, which is a very ancient production indeed, 
though falsely fathered upon Justin Martyr, it is clear 
that Origen, Lactantius, Victorinus, Ambrose, Chry- 
sostom, Theodoret, (Ecumenius, Aretas, Prudentius, 
Theophylact, Bernard, and, among the Popes, Cle- 


mens Romanus, and John XXII., were all of this 
opinion, as is confessed by all ; neither was this so ad- 
mirable and general consent of theirs contradicted by 
any declaration of the Church, for the space of four- 
teen hundred years; neither yet did any one of the 
Fathers, so far as we can discover, take upon him to 
refute this error, as Dionysius Alexandrinus and Je- 
rome did to refute the Millennarians ; all the rest of 
the Fathers being either utterly silent as to this parti- 
cular, and so by this their silence going over in a man- 
ner into the opinion of the major part, or else content- 
ing themselves with declaring sometimes here and 
there in their books, that they believed that the souls 
of the saints should enjoy the sight of God till the re- 
surrection; never formally denying the other opinion. 

But that which further shows that this opinion is 
both very ancient, and was also very common among 
the Christians, is, that even at this day it is believed, 
and defended by the whole Greek Church: neither is 
there any of all those who profess to follow the wri- 
tings of the Fathers, as the rule of their faith, who 
have rejected it, save only the Latins who have ex- 
pressly established the contrary at the council of Flo- 
rence, held in the year of our Lord 1439.* 

Do but imagine now to yourselves a Vincentius 
Lirinensis, standing in the midst of this council, and 
laying before them his own oracle before mentioned ; 
which is, " That we ought to hold as most certainly 
and undoubtedly true, whatever has been delivered 
by the ancients unanimously and by a common con- 
sent:" would he not have been hissed out by these 
reverend Fathers, as one that made the truth, which 
is holy and immutable, to depend upon the authority 
of men? For these men regarded not either the mul- 
titude, or the antiquity, or the learning, or the sanc- 

* Diffinimus insuper, &c. illorum animas qui post susceptum bap- 
tisma nullam omnino maculam incurrerimt, illas etiam quae post con- 
tractam peccati maculam vel in suis corporibus, vel eisdem exutae 
corporibus, prout superius dictum est, sunt purgatse, in caelum mox 
recipi, et intueri clare ipsum Deum, trinum et unum.- Cone. Flo. in 
defin. t. 4, p. 584. 


tity of the authors of this foolish opinion; but finding 
it to be false, without any ceremony rejected it, as 
they thought they had good reason to do, and at once 
ordained the contrary. 

Now I am verily persuaded, that there are very 
few points of faith, among all those which the Church 
of Rome would have the Protestants receive, for 
which there can be alleged as many specious testimo- 
nies, as there can be undoubted ones for this. Since 
then, after all this, it has not only been called in ques- 
tion, but has been also even utterly condemned, who 
sees not, that the consent of many Fathers together, 
although any such might be found upon all the points 
now in debate, would yet be no sufficient argument of 
the truth of the same ? But I shall pass on to the 

We have before heard that Tertullian, Cyprian, 
(who was both a bishop and a martyr,) Firmilianus 
(metropolitan of Cappadocia,) Dionysius (patriarch of 
Alexandria,) together with the synods of bishops of 
Africa, Cappadocia, Cilicia, and Bithynia, all held 
that the baptism of heretics was invalid and null. 
Basil,* who was one of the most eminent bishops of 
the whole Eastern Church, held also, in a manner, 
the very same opinion, and that a long time too after 
the determination of the council of Nice ; as it appears 
by the epistle which he wrote to Amphilochius ; which 
is also put in among the public decrees of the Church, 
by the Greek Canonists. And yet this opinion is now 
confessed by all to be erroneous. 

Many in like manner of the Fathers, as Tertullian,t 
Clemens Alexandrinus,J Lactantius,§ and Africanus,|| 
believed that our Saviour Christ kept the Feast of the 
Passover but once only, after his baptism. Yet, not- 
withstanding this assent of theirs, the opinion is known 
to be very erroneous, as PetaviusIT also testifies; and 

* Basil, ep. Amphiloch. torn. 2. p. 758, 759. 

t Tertul. lib. contr. Jud. cap. 8. 

X Clem. Alex. Strom. 1, 6. 

§ Lactant. Firmian. 1. 4. cap. 10. 

|| African, apud Hieron. Com. in Dan. cap. 10, torn. 4. pag. 1147. 

IT Petav. Not. in Epiphan. p. 203. 


besides it is expressly contrary to the text of the 

I shall not here say any thing of the opinion of 
Chrysostom,* Jerome,t Basil,! and the Fathers of the 
council held at Constantinople^ under the patriarch 
Flavian; who seem all to have held, that an oath was 
utterly unlawful for Christians, under the New Testa- 
ment. Neither shall I take any notice in this place 
of that conceit of Athanasius, Basil, and Methodius, 
who, according to John bishop of Thessalonica,|| be- 
lieved that the angels had bodies : to whom we may 
also add, (as we have shown before,) Hilary, Justin 
Martyr, Tertullian, and very many more of the 
Fathers, who all thought the nature of angels to be 
capable of carnal love; of which number is even 
AugustinelT also. Whosoever should now conclude 
from hence, that this fancy of theirs (which yet is of 
no small importance) is a truth; would he not be as 
sharply reproved for it by the Romanists, as by those 
of Geneva? But I must not forget, that besides Cyp- 
rian, Augustine, and Pope Innocent I. whose testimo- 
nies we have given before,** all the rest of the Doc- 
tors, in a manner, of the first ages maintained, that 
the eucharist was necessary for infants ; if at least you 
will take Maldonat's word,tt who affirms, that this 
opinion was in great request in the Church, during 
the first six centuries after our Saviour Christ. 

Cassander also testifies^ if that he has often observed 
this practice in the ancients; and Charlemagne and 
Louis the Pious, who lived a long time after the sixth 

* Chrysost. Horn, in statuas, et passim. 
t St. Hieron. Com. 1, in Matth. t. 6, p. 15. 
X Basil. Horn, in Ps. 14, t. 1, p. 154 et 155. 

§ AX\* X.XI iVTiTctXTUl YifJ.IV 7TAf)'JL TOU (TCOrnpOC XptPrOU, (Hit hfJ.QCa.1, &C. 

Act. Cone. Const, act. 1, t. 2, p. 129. 

|| T. 3. Cone. p. 547, in act. Cone. vii. act. 5. 

IT Aug. t. 1, lib. 1, contr. Acad. c. 7, t. 2, ep. Ill, et ep. 115, et t. 
3, Enchir. ad Laur. c. 59, de Trin. 1. 2, c. 7, et 1. 3, cap. 1, et 1. 8, 
cap. 2, et de Gen. ad lit. 1. 3, cap. 10, et 1. 11, cap. 22, et de divin. 
Daem. cap. 3, 4, 5, et t. 4, 1. 93, quaest. 9, 47, t. 5, 1. 11, de Civ. Dei, 
cap. 25, et 1. 15, cap. 23, et ibi Vives, et. 1. 21, cap. 23, et cap. 10. 

** Supr. 1. 1, c. 8. ft Maldon. in Joh. vi, 53. 

tt Cassand. Cansult. ad Fer. et Max. p. 936, et lib. de Bapt. Int. 
p. 747. 


century, testify that this custom continued in the 
West, even in their time, according to Cardinal Per- 
ron:* and the traces of this custom remain to this day 
among those Christians who are not of the Commu- 
nion of the Latin Church. For Nicolaus de Lyra, 
who lived above three hundred years since, observed, 
"That the Greeks accounted the holy eucharist so 
necessary, that they administered it to little children 
also, as well as baptism."! Even in our fathers' 
time, the Patriarch Jeremiah,;); speaking in the name 
of the whole Greek Church, said, " We do not only 
baptize little children, but we make them partakers 
of the Lord's Supper." And a little after, " We ac- 
count both sacraments to be necessary to salvation for 
all persons, namely, Baptism and the Holy Commu- 
nion." The Abyssinians also make their children in 
like manner communicate of the holy eucharist, as 
soon as they are baptized. § 

These are most evident arguments, that this false 
opinion on the necessity of the eucharist, was of old 
maintained, not by three or four of the Fathers only, 
but by the major part, and in a degree by all of them. 
For we do not hear even of one among all the ancient 
Fathers, who rejected it in express terms, as the coun- 
cil of Trent has done in these later times. 

To conclude, the Jesuit Pererius has informed us|[ 
(and indeed the observation is obvious enough to any 
man, who is ever so little conversant in the writings 
of those authors, who lived before Augustine's time) 
that the Greek Fathers, and a considerable part also 
of the Latins, were of opinion that the cause of pre- 
destination was the foresight which God had, either 
of men's good works, or else of their faith; either of 
which opinions, he assures us, is manifestly contrary 
both to the authority of the Scriptures and also to the 

* Du Perron, traict. de St. August, pag. 1001. 

t Notandum quod ex hoc quod dicitur hie nisi manducaveritis, 
&.C. dicunt Grasci, quod hoc sacramentum est tantae necessitatis, quod 
pueris debet dari, sicut baptismus. — Nicol. de Lyra in Joh. 

X Hierem. Patr. Const. Doctr. Exh. ad Germ. 

§ Alvarez, in his Voyage to Ethiopia. 

|| Perer. in Rom. c. 8, disp. 2*2, et 23. 


doctrine of Paul. Therefore I conceive we may, with- 
out troubling ourselves any further in making this 
invidious inquiry into the errors of the Fathers, con- 
clude, from what has been already produced, that 
seeing the Fathers have erred in so many particulars, 
not only singly but also many of them together, nei- 
ther the private opinions of each particular Father, 
nor yet the unanimous consent of the major part of 
them, is a sufficient argument to prove with certainty 
the truth of those points which are at this day contro- 
verted amongst us. 


Reason V. — That the Fathers have strongly contradicted one another, 
and have maintained different opinions in matters of importance. 

Bessario, a Greek, (who was honoured with the 
dignity of Cardinal by Pope Eugenius IV., as a re- 
ward of his earnest desire and the great pains he took 
in endeavouring to effect a reconciliation between the 
Eastern and the Western Churches,) in a book which 
he wrote upon this subject to the council of Florence, 
will have the whole difference between the Greek and 
Latin Churches, to be brought before the judgment 
seat of the Fathers.* And forasmuch as he knew, 
that unless the judges all agreed, the cause, (especially 
in matters of religion) necessarily remains undecided, 
he strongly labours to prove, that not only is each 
Father consistent with himself, but (which is yet much 
harder to prove) that they are all of the same opinion 
one with another : insomuch that he commands us, 
whenever there appears any contrariety in their wri- 
tings, that we should accuse our own ignorance, 
rather than blame them for contradicting each other. 
We may conclude therefore, from what is here laid 

* Bessar. Orat. Tim Ivaxnw;, c. 2. p. 520, et 521, t. 4, Cone. 


down by this author, who was both as acute and as 
learned a man as any at this council, that to render 
the Fathers capable of being the judges of our con- 
troversies, it is necessary that they should be all of 
the same judgment and opinion in point of religion. 
And certainly this is a most clear truth ; for if there 
be any contradiction amongst them, or dissension in 
opinion, they will leave our controversies more per- 
plexed, and instead of uniting, will rather distract us. 
That Ave may therefore be able to come to the know- 
ledge of the truth in this particular, it will behove us 
first of all to examine the truth of Bessario's asser- 
tion, that the opinions of the Fathers never clash, on 
points of religion. 

Now, although this were so, it would not necessarily 
follow that their judgment is infallible; since even an 
error may, either by concert, or by accident, or by some 
other similar means, happen to meet with unanimous 
accordance by various persons. But if this should 
prove to be false, then certainly we may make this 
infallible conclusion, that we ought to seek out for 
other judges of our controversies than the writings of 
the Fathers. We shall therefore show, by way of 
addition to the rest of our proofs, that this assertion 
of his is more bold than true; and, that there are 
many real differences to be found among the ancient 
Fathers in matters of religion. We have already no- 
ticed some of them incidentally, when speaking of 
other matters, and therefore we shall only lightly ad- 
vert to them ; and first of all as to that disagreement 
in opinion of the most ancient among the Fathers, 
Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Tertullian, on one side ; 
and Dionysius Alexandrinus, Gregory Nazianzen, 
and Jerome, on the other: the first of these promising 
us very seriously the delights and pleasures of a thou- 
sand years, and the diamonds and the sapphires of a 
new earthly Jerusalem, with ah its glory and prosperity: 
but the other very coarsely, and in downright terms, 
reproving this their conceit, as being an idle fancy, 
fit to be entertained by little children and old women 
only ; and which seems to have been derived rather 



from the dreams of the Jews than from the doctrine 
of the Apostles. 

Similar to this was that difference between the 
bishops of Asia and Pope Victor, about the observa- 
tion of Easter-day: and of Cyprian and Stephen, 
about the Baptism of Heretics : in all which differences 
the heat was so high, that it proceeded so far as to 
excommunicate each other. If Bessario now could 
but make it appear to us, that these were not real 
but seeming contradictions only, I should then make 
no question but that he would easily reconcile fire and 
water, or whatever things else in nature are the most 
contrary to one another. 

We have heard that Tertullian maintained, that the 
soul was ex traduce, and was propagated from the 
father to the son, by the natural course of generation ; 
and that Augustine likewise inclined to the same 
opinion; to whom, if we will believe Jerome, we 
must add a very considerable number of the Western 
Church also, who were all of the same persuasion.* 
But Jerome rejects them all, and their opinion,t and 
says that the soul is created immediately by God, at 
the very instant that it is united to the body; adding 
moreover (as we have formerly noticed) that this is 
the belief of the Church in this point. 

Jerome, and his adherents, held that all that repre- 
hension used by Paul to Peter, which we find men- 
tioned in the epistle to the Galatians, was only a 
feigned business, purposely acted between the two 
Apostles, by an agreement made between themselves. 
Augustine, and several others, maintain the contrary, 
and say that the thing was real, and was meant 
heartily and seriously, and as it is related by Paul; 
and that there was no cunning or underhand dealing 
in the business between Peter and him. And Jerome 
pursued this dispute with so much earnestness, that 
besides those epistles of his, which are full of gall and 

* An certe ex traduce, ut Tertullianus, Apollinarius, et maxima 
pars occidentalium autumant. — Hieron. Ep. 82. t. 2. 

t Id. Com. in Eccles. c. 12, t. 5. et Ep. 61, ad Pamm. t. 2. p. 242, 
et alibi passim. 


choler, on this particular, he yet, in his Commentaries,* 
which he wrote in his quieter temper, many times 
takes occasion to point underhand at Augustine, upon 
this old quarrel between them. So that certainly he 
must be quite out of his wits, whoever shall seriously 
maintain, that these two Fathers were perfectly of 
one opinion, and agreed upon these points. 

Justin Martyr is of opinion that it was the real 
ghost of Samuel that appeared to Saul; TV Sot/uot^a, 

^v%rjv x'KriOYivai V7to tqs iyyatfT'p^uSoi;; t being raised lip 

by the enchantments of the witch at Endor. Others 
say it was but a phantom: Tov Oeov tov 8s8coxoto^ r« 

Satfiovt,, iv t*co cr^^ttttft tov *2a(jiovq% otpOqvat, tri iyyaatpi/xvOui, J 

Some of them hold that the meeting together of the 
faithful at the eucharist thrice a week, is an apostolical 
tradition :§ others believe the contrary. || Some enjoin 
us to fast on Saturdays ;1T others forbid the same, under 
the penalty of being accounted no less than the mur- 
derers of Christ.** Some of them conceive that our 
Saviour Christ suffered death in the fortieth or fiftieth 
year of his Others again would persuade us, 
that he died in the thirtieth or thirty-first year of his 
agerli both which opinions are manifestly contrary to 
the text of the Gospel, which tells us clearly that after 
his baptism, that is to say, after the thirtieth year of 
his age, he conversed above three, and under five 
years, upon the earth. Some of them (as we are in- 
formed by these Latinized Greeks§§) allow of these 
terms cause and effect, in the doctrine of the Trinity ; 
but some others again do not so. Some of them are 
of opinion, that there is a certain order or distinction 

* Vid. Com. 14, in Es. t. 4, p. 378, et Com. 18, in eund. p. 485. 

t Justin, cont. Tryph. p. 333. 

X Pseudo Just. 1. Q. et R. Resp. ad q. 5'2. 

§ Epiphan. in Panar. Expos, fid. p. 1104. 

|| August, in Ep. 118, ad Jan. t. 3, vid. Petav. in Epiph. p. 354. 

1F Vid. Petav. p. 359, in Epiph. Eccl. Rom. ap. Socr. 1. 5, c. 22, Au- 
gust. Ep. 86, et 118. Innoc. I. Ep. 1, c. 4. 

** Ignat. Ep. 4, ad Philip. Can. Apost. c. 68, Constit. Apost. 1. 7, 
c. 24, Syn. Trull, can. 55. 

ft Iren. 1. 2, c. 39. 

U Tertull. Clem. Alex. Lactant. Afric. ubi supr. 

§§ Scholarius, Orat. 3, t. 4, Concil. Gen. p. 658, 659. 


of priority in the persons of the Trinity. Others again 
there are, who will not endure to hear of this ex- 

Those of the Western Church call the Son only, 
The Image of the Father; but the Greek Church 
makes this name extend to the Holy Ghost also. 
Basil will not allow of the word yswr^a, offspring, 
in discoursing of the Son. Others again make use of 
it without any scruple at all. 

I doubt very much whether Bessario had ever read 
the Apologies and Invectives of Jerome and of Ruf- 
finus, who were yet both of them Fathers, and of 
good, though not of equal, repute in the Church, both 
of their own time and of the ages following; nor do 
I believe he remembered the quarrel there was be- 
tween Theophilus and Epiphanius on the one part, 
and Chrysostom on the other. For certainly their 
conduct towards each other, does not show them to 
have been very well agreed. But now to overthrow 
this bold assertion of his at once, we need go no fur- 
ther than to the very point on which he proposed it. 
For whom will he ever be able to persuade that all 
the Fathers have written and said the very same 
things on the Procession of the Holy Ghost? It is 
evident that sometimes they will have Him to pro- 
ceed from the Son also, as Basil has expressed him- 
self, in that passage of his which is alleged by the 
Latins, out of his book against Eunomius, (which 
production however the Greeks say is forged,) and as 
the Fathers of the Western Church have most ex- 
pressly declared themselves in many places.* But 
yet I cannot possibly see how we can say that they 
have all been of this opinion. 

I shall not here interfere with those other authori- 
ties produced by the Greeks out of the Fathers ; which 
their adversaries put by as well as they can; oftentimes 
most miserably wresting, and torturing the words and 
meaning of the Fathers. But that passage of Theo- 
doret, in his refutation of Cyril's Anathemas, is so 
clear and express, that nothing can be more so. 

* Con. Flor. Act. 20, t. 4, Cone. p. 454. 


Cyril had said, in his 9th Anathema, that the Holy- 
Ghost proceeds properly from the Son: *Utov av*ov 
(Xptatov) to Ttvsvpa* Theodoret answers, that it is 
both impious and blasphemous to say that the Holy 
Ghost has His subsistence from the Son, or by the Son. 
" If he means (says he) that the Holy Ghost proceeds 
properly from the Son, as being of the same nature 
with Him, and as proceeding from the Father, we 
shall willingly agree with him, and receive his doc- 
trine as sound and pious : but if he mean that the 
Holy Ghost has its subsistence from the Son, or by the 
Son, we will reject it as impious and blasphemous."! 

He could not have thrown by this proposition of 
Cyril more bluntly, or in coarser terms ; and yet to so 
direct a charge of falsehood, and to so insolent a re- 
jection of a doctrine then received by the Church, as 
the Latins pretend, Cyril replies no more than this: 
"That the Holy Ghost, although he proceeds from 
the Father, nevertheless is not a stranger to the Son; 
since He has all things common with the Father!"! 

Why did he not cry out against Theodoret as a 
heretic, as he many times elsewhere does, with much 
less reason ; if at least, as you assert the Church at 
that time held that the Holy Ghost proceeded from 
the Son? Why did he not take it very ill at his hands, 
that he should in so insolent a manner reject, as im- 
pious and blasphemous, a proposition that was so holy 
and so true ? Why did he not call the whole Church 
in, to be his warrant for what he had said, if it had 
really been the general belief of the Church at that 
time? And how comes it to pass that, instead of all 
this, he rather returns so tame an answer, that he 
seems rather to betray his own cause, and to incline 
to the opinion of his adversary? For it is evident that 

* Cyril. Anath. 9. 

t '3<TfOV (Tg TO 7TViV[XdL TOU VIQV, il /U&V w? OfAOtyUiS, K'JU &C TTarpO? iKTTOpiUO/UiVOV 

eq», <ruvGfA(*xoy»9-Q/mzv, kxI & iuezfiii Jt£Q{j<.zQx thv <pa>v»V tl <F w? «£ vlou, h cT/ 
viau mv u7ra.p%iv t%ov, wff fi\*<r<p»ju.ov touto, k*i Sis Jucrefix aTroppt^o/uiy, — 
Theodor. Refut. Anath. 9, Cyril. Act. Cone. Eph. 

X 'En7rcpiViTcti /uiv y*p \x tgi> Biov kxi 7rtLrpo$ to 7Tv&jjux to aytov, Kzra. 
t»v TCU lampoi; 4>av»v, dx\' obit aXXorpicv \o~ii rov vlov' 7rcLvrcL yctpi%u /uarst 
tow 7r&rpog. — Cyril. Resp. ad Ref. Theod. Anath. 9. ibid. 


neither Theodoret, nor yet any of the modern Greeks, 
ever held that the Holy Ghost was a stranger to, or 
was unconcerned in, the Son: seeing that they all 
confess, that these three, to wit, the Father, the Son, 
and the Holy Ghost, are one and the same God, who 
is blessed for ever. 

Whosoever shall but diligently consider these things, 
(for we cannot enter further into the examination of 
them,) cannot, in my judgment, but confess that the 
Church had not as yet declared itself, or determined 
any thing on this point ; and that these doctors spake 
herein each man his private opinion only, and accord- 
ing as the present occasion of disputation led him to 
speak; contradicting one another, in the manner usual 
in speaking of things not as yet thoroughly exami- 
ned, or expressly determined: insomuch that it would 
grieve a man to see how the Greeks and the Latins 
toil to no purpose, each of them labouring to bring 
over the Fathers to speak to their side, and wresting 
their words, whenever they seem to be but ever so 
little ambiguous; and repeatedly accusing one another 
of having corrupted the writings of the ancients, when- 
ever they are found to speak expressly against them: 
and when all is done, giving very little satisfaction to 
unprejudiced readers; whereas it had been much 
easier to have honestly confessed at first, what is but 
too apparent, that the Fathers, in this, as in many 
other points of religion, have not all been of one and 
the same persuasion. And whereas Bessario, that he 
may elude this testimony of Theodoret, affirms that 
he was cast out of the Church, for having denied that 
the Holy Ghost proceeded from the Son;* and that 
he afterwards publicly confessed his error at the 
council of Chalcedon, where he was received into the 
Church again; all this, I say, is only a piece of Grecian 
assurance; which shows more clearly than all the rest 
how much this man was carried away by his zeal on 
this subject. For, I pray, in what ancient author had 
he ever read, that Theodoret was, I do not say con- 

* Bessar. in Orat. Dogmat. sive de Unione Extra, cap. 9, in Act. 
Cone. Flor. Sess. 20, t. 4, Cone. p. 551. 


demned or excommunicated, but so much as reproved, 
or accused only, for having maintained any erroneous 
opinion on the procession of the Holy Ghost? We 
have the acts of the Council of Ephesus, where he 
was excommunicated. We have the letters of Cyril, 
wherein he again received into the communion of the 
Church John patriarch of Antioch, and all his follow- 
ers, of which number Theodoret was the chief. We 
have the council of Chalcedon; where Theodoret, 
after some certain accusations of his adversaries 
against him, was at length received by the whole 
assembly as a Catholic bishop, and was admitted to 
sit amongst them. In which of all these authentic 
pieces is there so much as one word spoken on this 
opinion of his, concerning the point of the proceeding 
of the Holy Ghost? Cyril himself, that is to say, 
those of his party, did not at all condemn what he 
said on this particular ; but he rather contented him- 
self with excusing, or, if you please, in defending 
only his own opinion. The business for which Theo- 
doret was questioned in the councils of Ephesus and 
of Chalcedon, had nothing in the world to do with 
this, touching the procession of the Holy Ghost : for 
the question was only there on the two natures of 
our Saviour Christ, whom Nestorius would needs 
divide into two persons; John patriarch of Antioch, 
Theodoret, and divers other Eastern bishops, favour- 
ing in some sort his person, or being indeed offended 
rather at the proceeding of the council of Ephesus 
against him; and withal rejecting several things that 
were contained in the Anathemas of Cyril. 

Now with what conscience could this man tell us, 
after all this, that Theodoret had been deposed from 
his bishopric for having maintained an erroneous 
opinion on the procession of the Holy Ghost? But 
enough of this. 

I would, in the next place, wish to know how this 
reconciler of differences could compose that debate 
between the six hundred and thirty Fathers of the 
council at Chalcedon, and Leo bishop of Rome ; and 
how he can reconcile the twenty-eighth canon of the 


one, with those many epistles written by the other on 
this point, to Anatolius patriarch of Constantinople, 
to the emperor Marcianus and his empress, to the 
prelates who were met together in that council, and 
to the patriarch of Antioch: the Fathers of this coun- 
cil advancing the throne of the patriarch of Constan- 
tinople above those of Alexandria and of Antioch, 
and making it equal even with that of Rome itself: 
Pope Leo on the contrary sending out his thunder- 
bolts against this decree of theirs, as a most insufferable 
error. And when this our conciliator shall have done 
his business at Chalcedon, if he please he may pass 
over into Africa, and there also reconcile the Fathers 
of that country to the bishops of Rome ; the former 
of these forbidding their clergy to make any appeals 
to Rome, and the other in the meantime to their 
utmost endeavouring to prove, that it is their proper 
right to have such appeals brought before them. And 
when he has finished this work, our Greek may then 
in the next place try to remove all misunderstanding 
between the Fathers of the council of Francfort, and 
those of the second council of Nice, on the point of 
the use of images; the latter of these ordaining, 
" That we ought to pay them salutations and adora- 
tion of honour; and that we ought to honour them 
with incense and lights ;"* and the other, as every 
man knows, having not only rejected this Greek 
Council, but having written also expressly against it, 
by the command of the emperor Charlemagne. 

Certainly he that shall but read the Fathers them- 
selves will readily perceive that they contradict each 
other in most plain and irreconcilable terms ; and that 
there is no other way of bringing them fairly together, 
but by receiving every one of them with his own pri- 
vate opinions; imitating herein the marvellous wis- 
dom of the council of Constantinople in Trullo;t 

* Kett ravrang d.a-7ra.a-/ucv xcti rtfjutrtiuiv 7r^oa-nvv^o'tv a7rovt/ueiv. .... Kui 
QufAiA/uxToev k*i <^cdtw 7rpc<rctycoynv 7rpoe t«v tovtocv rt/uw 7roM<rQcti. — Cone. 
7, Act. 7, in defin. t 3, Cone. p. 661. 

t Synod. Quinisexta Can. 2, t. 3. [Trullus, a hall in the palace at 
Constantinople, so called from Trullium, a bowl, which it resembled 
in form. — Am. Ed.] 


which receives and allows all in gross without dis- 
tinction, both the canons of the Apostles, and the 
whole code of the Church Universal, together with 
those of Sardica, Carthage, and Laodicea ; amongst 
which notwithstanding there are found strong contra- 
dictions. As, for example, the council of Sardica will 
have the right of receiving the appeals of all bishops to 
belong to the see of Rome,* whereas Chalcedon gives 
this privilege to that of Constantinople.! The coun- 
cil of Laodicea leaves out of the canon of the Scrip- 
tures the Maccabees, Ecclesiasticus, the book of Wis- 
dom, Tobit, and Judith :J that of Carthage puts them 
in expressly. § But now these honest Fathers of Con- 
stantinople, that they may satisfy all, take no notice 
whatever of these their differences ; but receive each 
of them with their own particular canons and opin- 
ions, without obliging them to any one common rule; 
doing this, I believe, on condition that they themselves 
may not be required by those whom they thus admit 
to receive any more from them than they shall think 
convenient. I know no man that would not at this 
rate readily admit, as canonical, all the writings of 
the Fathers ; provided that he might but have liberty 
to adopt or reject what he pleased. Thus we may 
very well from henceforth rest satisfied, that, not- 
withstanding Bessario's decision to the contrary, the 
Fathers have not always been of the same judgment 
in matters of religion: and that consequently they 
ought not to be received by us as our judges on the 
matter. For seeing that I find them contradicting 
each other in so many important points, how shall I 
be assured that they are unanimously agreed on those 
points which are now debated amongst us? Why 
may they not have had the same diversity of opinion 
on the eucharist, the authority of the Church, the 
power of the Pope, freewill or purgatory, that they 
had in those other points Avhich we have before pre- 
sented to the reader's view ; which were of as great 

* Synod. Sard. Can. 3 et 7. + Synod. Chalced. c. 9 et 17. 

t Synod. Laod. Can. 59. § Synod. Carthag. iii. c. 47. 


importance as these, and no less easy to be determi- 
ned, as we have proved in the preceding chapter? 

Epiphanius and Jerome are as opposite in their 
judgments, on the ancient condition of priests and 
bishops, as Theodoret and Cyril are, on the procession 
of the Holy Ghost. Neither are some opinions of 
Tertullian and of Damascene, of Theodoret and Euse- 
bius of Emesa; of Eusebius of Csesarea and the Se- 
venth Council, on the point of the eucharist, less 
opposite to each other, than are those of Cyprian and 
of Stephen on the baptism of heretics; and so like- 
wise in many other particulars. Why then should 
we take so much pains in reconciling these men, and 
making them speak all the same thing? Why should 
we so cruelly torture them as we do, to make them 
all of one opinion, and to say the same things, whe- 
ther they will or no; and sometimes too against our 
own conscience; but certainly, for the most part, 
without any satisfaction to the reader? Why should 
we not rather honestly confess that their opinions 
were also different, as well as their words? 

We make no scruple in affirming that they have 
been of contrary opinions, on those other points of re- 
ligion, which are not at all now controverted amongst 
us. What great harm would it do, if we should con- 
fess that they were not any better agreed on these 
points now in debate? But we need not press this 
matter any further; it is sufficient for us that we have 
proved that they were of different opinions in point 
of religion ; so that it clearly follows from hence, that 
we ought not to admit of their writings, as the proper 
judges of our controversies. 

I have heretofore adverted, though very lightly, to 
their diversity of opinion and contrariety in their ex- 
positions of the Scriptures; which is, however, a busi- 
ness of no trifling consideration. For if we take them 
for our judges, we shall then necessarily be obliged 
every minute to have recourse to them, for the sense 
of those passages of Scripture on which we disagree 
among ourselves. If there be now as great difference 
in judgment on these things among them as there is 


amongst ourselves, what have we then left us to trust 
to? This passage, for example, in the gospel accord- 
ing to John, " I and my Father are One/'* is of very 
great importance in the disputes against both Sabellius 
and Arius. Would you now know the true sense and 
meaning of these words, lest otherwise, by misinter- 
preting the same, you might chance to fall into the 
one or the other of these two precipices ? If you have 
recourse to the Fathers in this case, you shall have 
some of them referring it to the union of the affection 
and of the will,t and others again, to the unity of 
essence and of nature!. 

So likewise this other passage in the same Evan- 
gelist: "My Father is greater than I,"§ is very con- 
siderable also in the question on the divinity of Jesus 
Christ: and yet there are some among the Fathers|| 
who understand the words as spoken indefinitely of 
the Son of God, although the rest of them ordinarily 
restrict them to his humanity. These words also of 
John, " The word was made flesh,"1T are of no small 
consideration in the disputes against Nestorius and 
Eutyches. Now if you bring the business before the 
Fathers, you shall have some of them expounding 
these words,** by comparing them with those passages 
in Paul, where it is said that Christ was made sintt 
and a curse for usrlj but Cyril says, that we must 
take heed how we thus interpret the words. §§ 

It would be an endless task if I should here attempt 
to enumerate all the differences and contrarieties of 
judgment to be found in the Fathers. Those who 
have a mind to see any more of them may have 

* Ego et Pater unum sumus. — John x. 30. 

t Unum non pertinet ad singularitatem, sed ad unitatem, ad simi- 
litudinem, ad conjunctionem, ad dilectionem Patris, qui Filium dili- 
git, et ad obsequium Filii, qui voluntati Patris obsequitur. — Tertul. 
contr, Prax. c. 22. — Autor libri de Trin. c . 22. Orig. contra Celsum, 
lib. 8, p. 396. 

t Athanas. Greg. Nazianz. alii pene omnes passim. 

§ John xiv. 28. || Epiphan. Ancor p. 23. IT John i. 14. 

** Ambros. 1. de Incar. Sacr. c. 6. t. 2. p. 183. Athan. Ep. ad Epict. 
1. 1. p. 587, & t. 2. p. 298. 

tt 2 Cor. v. 21. tt Gal. Hi. 13. 

§§ Cyril. Apol. Athan. 1. 1. 1. Cone. Gener. p. 515. 


recourse to some of our late commentators, whose 
usual course is, to bring in all together the several 
interpretations of the Fathers upon those books which 
they comment upon: as Maldonate has done upon 
the gospels ; Cardinal Tolet upon John ; Justinianus, 
upon the epistles of Paul, and others: where they 
will find that there is scarcely any one verse that all 
the ancients understood in the same sense. What is 
yet worse than this, besides this contrariety and differ- 
ence of interpretation, you will often meet with many 
frigid and vapid expositions: and it is very seldom 
that you shall find there that solid simplicity which 
we ought to expect from all those who take upon 
them the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures. 

Thus, therefore, as we often meet with contrariety 
of judgment, as well in their expositions of the Scrip- 
tures as in their opinions, we may safely conclude 
that they are not of sufficient authority to be admitted 
as supreme judges of our controversies: that contra- 
diction which is often found amongst them, evidently 
showing that they are not infallible judges, such as 
it is requisite that they should be, for establishing all 
those points which are at this day maintained by the 
Church of Rome against the Protestants. 


Reason VI. — Neither the Church of Rome nor the Protestants acknow- 
ledge the Fathers for their judges in points of religion ; both of them 
rejecting such of their opinions and practices as are not suited to 
their taste. An answer to two objections that may be made against 
what is delivered in this discourse. 

Thus far have we laboured to prove that the writings 
of the Fathers have not authority enough in themselves 
to be received as definitive judgments upon our dif- 
ferences in religion. Let us now, in the last place, see 
what claim they have to our regard. For although a 


sentence of judgment should be good and valid in itself, 
as being pronounced by a competent judge, duly and 
according to the forms of law; yet this would not 
serve to determine the controversy, if the authority of 
this judge be denied by either of the parties, unless, 
as it is in worldly affairs, the law be armed with such 
a power, as to be able to force those who are obstinate 
to submit to reason. As the question is here concern- 
ing religion, which is a holy and divine thing, to the 
embracing whereof men ought to be persuaded and 
not compelled, force has no place here. For although, 
perhaps, they could compel men outwardly to render 
some such respect to the writings of the Fathers, this 
would not serve to make any impression of the belief 
of the same, in the heart of any one. The same 
divisions would still remain in the minds of men, 
which you are first of all to pluck up by the roots, if 
ever you intend to make men agree in points of reli- 
gion. For the certain determination therefore of all 
differences of this nature, it is necessary that both 
parties be persuaded that the judge who is to pro- 
nounce sentence upon the same, has as much autho- 
rity as is requisite for that purpose. Though the 
Fathers had clearly and positively pronounced what 
they thought on the point in hand, (which yet they have 
not done, as we have proved before,) and though they 
had been endued with all these qualities which are 
requisite for rendering a man fit to be a supreme judge, 
from whom there can be no appeal, (which yet is not 
so, as we have already clearly proved,) yet all this 
would be to no purpose, unless this authority were 
acknowledged by both parties. 

The Old Testament is a book which was written by 
divine inspiration, and is endued with supreme autho- 
rity, so that every part of it ought to be believed. 
Yet this has not any influence with a Pagan ; because 
he does not acknowledge any such excellent worth to 
be in it. In like manner the New Testament cannot 
decide the differences between the Jews and us; not 
because it is not of sufficient authority in itself, but 
because it is not so to the Jew. And indeed he who 


should adduce, in disputing against the Pagans, the 
authority of the Old Testament, or that of the New, 
for bringing over a Jew to our belief, would be worthy 
of ridicule. 

Suppose therefore, that the writings of the Fathers 
were clear upon our questions; nay, let it be granted 
moreover that they were written by Divine inspira- 
tion, and are of themselves of a full and undeniable 
authority; I say still that they cannot decide our de- 
bates, if either of the parties shall refuse to acknow- 
ledge this great and admirable dignity to be in them ; 
much less if both parties shall refuse to allow them to 
have this advantage. Let us therefore see, in what 
account the several parties hold the Fathers, and 
whether they acknowledge them as the supreme 
judges of their religion; or at least as arbitrators, 
whose definitive judgment ought to stand firm and 

As for Protestants, whom their adversaries would 
fain persuade, if they could, to receive the Fathers 
for judges in religion; and to whom consequently 
they ought not, according to the laws of legitimate 
controversy, to adduce for the proof of any point in 
debate, any other principles than what they admit: 
it is evident that they attribute to the Fathers any 
thing but such an authority. For in their Confession 
of Faith* they declare, in the very beginning of it, 
that they hold the Scriptures to be the rule of their 
faith: and as for all other ecclesiastical writings, al- 
though they consider them useful, yet do they not 
conceive that a man may safely build any article of 
faith upon them. And indeed, since they believe (as 
they tell you immediately afterwards,) that the Scrip- 
ture contains all things necessary, both for the service 
of God, arid the salvation of men, they have no need 
of any other judge, and should in vain have recourse 
to the writings of the ancients; the authority whereof, 
however great it be, is still much less, both in itself 
and also in respect of us, than that of the Bible. 

* Confess, dc Foi des Eglis. Ref. de Fran. Art. 4. [With this 
agree all the Protestant Confessions. — Am. Ed.] 


In the next place, they seriously profess that their 
intent is to reform the Christian doctrine according to 
this rule, and to retain firmly whatever articles of 
faith are therein delivered, and to reject constantly 
all those that are not there found laid down, however 
high and eminent the authority be, that shall rescind 
the one or establish the other in the belief of men: 
" It*is not lawful (say they) for men, nor yet for the 
angels themselves, either to add to, or diminish from, 
or to alter it ; neither may antiquity, nor customs, nor 
multitude, nor judgments, nor human wisdom, nor de- 
finitive sentences, nor edicts, nor decrees, nor councils, 
nor visions, nor miracles, be brought in opposition to it : 
but on the contrary, rather all other things ought to 
be examined, regulated, and reformed by it."* These 
are their own words. If therefore they will not de- 
part from this their belief, which is, as it were, the 
foundation and key of their whole reformation; they 
cannot receive the Fathers who lived in the second, 
third, and fourth, and in the following centuries, as 
judges, nor yet absolutely and simply as witnesses, in 
the points of faith. For they all hold that that pure, 
simple, and holy doctrine which was taught and 
preached by the Apostles at the beginning of Chris- 
tianity, and delivered over to us by themselves in the 
New Testament, has been by little and little altered 
and corrupted; time, which changes all things, con- 
tinually mixing with it some corruption or other: 
sometimes a Jewish or a Heathenish opinion, and 
sometimes again some peculiar observation; other 
times some superstitious ceremony or other; whilst 
one building upon the foundation with stubble, an- 
other with hay, a third with wood; the body seems 
at length by little and little to have become quite 
different from what it anciently was; we having, in- 
stead of a palace of gold and of silver, a house built 
of plaster, stone, wood, and mud, and the like poor 
materials. In like manner (say they) as we see that 
brooks of water, the further distant they are from 
their springs, the more filth they contract, and the 

* Ibid. Art. 5. 


more does their water lose its first purity. As a man, 
the more he grows in years, the more does that native 
simplicity which appeared in him in his infancy de- 
cay ; his body and his mind are changed, and he is so 
much altered by little and little, through study and 
art, that at length he seems to be entirely another 
man. In like manner (say they) has it fared with 
Christianity. And here they urge that notable pas- 
sage out of Paul, in his second epistle to the Thessa- 
lonians, where he speaks of a great falling away, 
which then in his time began already to work secretly 
and insensibly, but was not to break forth till a long 
time after; as you see it is in all great things, whether 
in nature, or in the affairs and occurrences that hap- 
pen to mankind, which are all conceived and hatched 
slowly, and by degrees, and are sometimes a whole 
age before they are brought forth. 

Now according to this hypothesis, which, as I con- 
ceive, is equally common to all Protestants, the doc- 
trine of the Church must necessarily have suffered 
some alteration in the second age of Christianity, by 
admitting the mixture of some new matter into its 
faith and discipline : and so likewise in the third age 
some other corruption must necessarily have crept in : 
and so in the fourth, fifth, and the rest that follow; 
the Christian religion continually losing something of 
its original purity and simplicity, and on the other 
side still contracting all along some new impurities, 
till at length it came to the highest degree of corrup- 
tion: in which condition, they say, they found it; and 
have now at last, by the guidance of the Scriptures, 
restored it to the self-same state wherein it was at the 
beginning; and have, as it were, fixed it again upon 
its true and proper hinge, from whence, partly by the 
ignorance and partly by the fraud of men, during the 
space of so many ages together, it had by little and 
little been removed. This therefore being their opin- 
ion, they cannot recognize, as the rule of all their 
doctrine, the writings of any of the Fathers who lived 
from the Apostles' time down to ours, without betray- 
ing and contradicting themselves. For according to 


what they maintain, on the progress of corruption in 
religion, there has been some alteration in the Chris- 
tian doctrine, both in the second, third, and all follow- 
ing ages. And then again, according to what they 
conceive and believe of their own reformation, their 
doctrine is the very same that was in the time of the 
Apostles, as being taken immediately out of their 
books. If therefore they should examine it by what 
the Fathers of the second century believed, there must 
necessarily be something found in the doctrine of the 
Fathers which is not in theirs: and the difference will 
be much greater, if the comparison be made between 
it and the doctrine of the third, fourth, and the follow- 
ing ages; in all which, according to their hypothesis, 
the corruption has continually increased. For if their 
doctrines were in every respect conformable to each 
other, and the one had neither more nor less than 
the other, there must necessarily then follow one of 
these two things ; namely, that either this corruption, 
which they presuppose to be in the faith and disci- 
pline of the Church, is not that mystery which worked 
in St. Paul's time ; or else, that their reformation is 
not the pure and simple doctrine of the Apostles : the 
members of which division are contradictory to those 
two positions, which, as we have said, they unani- 
mously maintain. Therefore, to avoid this contra- 
diction, it concerns them constantly to persevere in 
that which they profess is their belief, in their con- 
fession of faith : to wit, that there are no ecclesiastical 
writings whatsoever, that are of sufficient authority 
to be safely built upon, and made the judges of faith; 
and that the Holy Scripture is the only rule by which 
all these things are to be examined. And this is that 
which they all agree upon (as far as I have either 
read or known,) as any one may see in the books of 
Calvin, Bncer, Melancthon, Luther, Beza, and the 
rest ; who all rely upon the authority of the Scriptures 
only; and in no case admit the authority of the 
Fathers, as a sufficient ground whereon to build any 
article of their belief. 

It is true, I confess, that some of their first authors, 



as Bucer, Peter Martyr, and Jewel of Salisbury, and 
in a manner all the later writers also, allege the testi- 
monies of the Fathers; but (if you but mark it) it is 
only by way of confutation, and not of establishing 
any thing : they do it only to overthrow the opinions 
of the Church of Rome, and not to strengthen their 
own. For though they hold that the doctrine of the 
Fathers is not so pure as that of the Apostles ; yet do 
they withal believe that it is much purer than that 
which is at this day taught by the Church of Rome ; 
the purity of doctrine having continually decayed, 
and the impurity of it increased, the further they are 
removed from the time of the apostles, and the nearer 
they approach towards the afore-mentioned falling 
away spoken of, as they say, by Paul. 

Although the Protestants allow the Scriptures alone 
for the true foundation of their faith, yet they account 
the writings of the Fathers to be necessary, first of all 
for proving this decay which they say has happened 
in Christianity; and secondly, for making it appear 
that the opinions which their adversaries now main- 
tain were not in those days brought into any form, 
but were as yet only in embryo. As for example, 
transubstantiation was not as yet an article of faith; 
notwithstanding they long ago did innocently, and 
not foreseeing what the issue might prove to be, be- 
lieve certain things, out of which (being afterwards 
glossed over by passing through several languages) 
transubstantiation was at length concocted. So like- 
wise the supremacy of the Pope had at that time no 
place in the belief of men; although those small threads 
and root-strings, from whence this vast and wonder- 
ful power first sprang, long since appeared in the 

The like may be said of the greatest part of these 
other points, which the Protestants will not by any 
means receive. And that this is their resolution, 
appears evidently by those many books which they 
have written on this subject, wherein they show his- 
torically the whole progress of this decay in Chris- 
tianity, as well in its faith as in its polity and disci- 


pline. And truly this their design seems to be very- 
sufficient and satisfactory. For, seeing that they pro- 
pose nothing positively, and as an article of faith 
necessary to salvation, which may not easily and 
plainly be proved out of the Scriptures; they have 
no need to make use of any other principle for the 
demonstration of the truth of it. 

Furthermore, seeing that those positive articles of 
faith which they believe are in a manner all of them 
received and confessed by the Church of Rome, as we 
have said before in the preface to this treatise, there 
is no need of troubling a man's self to prove the same ; 
those things which both parties are agreed upon, not 
requiring to be proved, but being always presupposed 
in all disputations. Yet, if any one has a wish to be 
informed what the belief of the Fathers was on the 
said articles, it is easy for them to show that they 
also believed all of them, as well as themselves ; as 
for example, that there is a God, a Christ, a salvation, 
a sacrament of baptism, a sacrament of the Eucharist, 
and the like truths; the greatest part of which we 
formerly set down in the beginning of this discourse. 

And as for those other articles, which are proposed 
to the world, by the Church of Rome, it is sufficient 
for them that they are able to answer the arguments 
which are brought to prove them, and to make it by 
this means appear that they have not any sure ground 
at all, and consequently neither may nor ought to be 
received into the faith of Christians. And this is the 
use that the Protestants make of the Fathers; show- 
ing that they did not hold the said articles, as the 
Church of Rome does at this day. So that their 
alleging the Fathers to this purpose only, and indeed 
their whole practice in these disputes, declares evi- 
dently enough, that they conceive not the belief of 
the Church of Rome to be so perfectly and exactly 
conformable to that of antiquity; especially of the 
first four or five ages ; which accords very well with 
their hypothesis, regarding the corruption of the Chris- 
tian doctrine. Yet no one can conclude from hence, 
that they allow of the authority of the Fathers as a 


sufficient foundation to ground any article of faith 
upon; for this is repugnant both to their doctrine, and 
to the protestation which they on all occasions make 
expressly to the contrary. I cannot therefore but 
wonder at the proceeding of some of our modern 
authors, who in their disputations with the Protest- 
ants endeavour to prove the articles of their faith by 
testimonies brought out of the Fathers; whereas the 
Protestants never go about to make good their own 
opinions, but only to overthrow those of their adver- 
saries, by urging the Fathers' testimonies. For since 
the members of the Church of Rome maintain, that 
the Church neither has, nor can possibly err in points 
of faith, and that its belief in matters of faith has 
always been the same that it is at this day; it is suffi- 
cient for the Protestant to show, by comparing the 
doctrine of the ancient Fathers with that of the Church 
of Rome, that there is a great difference between 
them. Nor does this in any wise bind them to believe 
throughout whatsoever the Fathers believed; it being 
evident, according to their hypothesis, that some errors 
may have crept into their belief; though certainly 
not such, nor so gross, as have been since entertained 
by the Church in the ages succeeding. We shall 
conclude therefore that the Protestants acknowledge 
not, either in the Fathers or in their writings, any 
such absolute authority, as renders them supreme 
judges in matters of religion, from whom no appeal 
can be made. Whence it will follow, that even though 
the Fathers had such an authority ; yet could not their 
definitive sentence put an end to any of our contro- 
versies; and therefore it concerns the Church of Rome 
to have recourse to some other way of proof, if she 
intends to prevail upon her adversaries to receive the 
aforesaid articles. 

What will you say now, if we make it appear to 
you that the Church of Rome itself does not allow 
that the Fathers have any such authority? I suppose 
that if we are able to do this, there is no man so per- 
verse as not to confess, that this proceeding of theirs, 
in grounding their articles of faith upon the sayings 


of the Fathers, is not only very insufficient, but very 
inconvenient also. For how can it ever be endured, 
that a man who would persuade you to the belief of 
any thing, should for that purpose make use of the 
testimony of some such persons as neither you nor 
himself believe to be infallibly true, and so fit to be 
trusted? Let us now therefore see whether the Church 
of Rome really has so great an esteem for the Fathers 
as she would be thought to have by this proceeding. 

Certainly several of the learned of that party have 
upon divers occasions let us see plain enough, that 
they make no more account of them than the Protes- 
tants do. For whereas these require that the autho- 
rity of the Fathers be grounded upon that of the 
Scripture ; and therefore receive nothing that they de- 
liver as infallibly true, unless it be grounded upon the 
Scripture, passing by or rejecting whatsoever they 
propose either besides or contrary to the sense of the 
Scripture : the other in like manner will have the 
judgment of the Fathers depend upon that of the 
Church then being in every age ; and approve, pass 
by, or condemn all such opinions of theirs, as the 
Church either approves, passes by, or condemns. So 
that although they differ in this, that the one attributes 
the supremacy to the Scripture, and the other to the 
Church of their age ; yet they both agree in this, that 
both of them equally deprive the Fathers of the same ; 
insomuch that they both spend their time unprofitably 
enough, whilst they trouble themselves in pleading 
their cause before this inferior court, where the wrang- 
ling and cunning tricks of the law have so much place ; 
where the judgments are hard to be obtained, and 
yet harder to be understood ; and, when all is done, 
are not supreme, but are such as both parties believe 
they may lawfully appeal from: whereas they might, 
if they pleased, let alone these troublesome and use- 
less shifts, and come at once before the supreme tribu- 
nal; whether it be that of the Scriptures or of the 
Church; where the suits are not so long, and where 
the subtlety of pleading is of much less use ; where 
the sentences also are more clear and express, and 


(which is the chief thing of all) such as we cannot 
appeal from. But that we may not be thought to 
impose this opinion upon the Romish doctors unjustly, 
let us hear them speak themselves. 

Cardinal Cajetan, in his preface on the five books 
of Moses, speaking of his own Annotations, says 
thus : " If you chance there to meet with any new 
exposition, which is agreeable to the text, and not 
contrary either to the Scriptures or to the doctrine 
of the Church, although perhaps it differs from that 
which is given by the whole current of the holy doc- 
tors; I shall desire the readers that they would not 
too hastily reject it, but that they would rather cen- 
sure charitably. Let them remember to give every 
man his due: there are none but the authors of the 
Holy Scriptures alone, to whom we attribute such 
authority, as that we ought to believe whatsoever 
they have written. But as for others (says Augustine,) 
of however great sanctity and learning they may have 
been, I so read them, that I do not believe what they 
have written merely because they have written it. 
Let no man therefore reject a new exposition of any 
passage of Scripture, under pretence that it is contrary 
to what the ancient Doctors gave; but let him rather 
diligently examine the text, and the context of the 
Scripture; and if he find that it accords well therewith, 
let him praise God, who has not tied the exposition 
of the Scriptures to the sense of the ancient Doctors, 
but to the whole Scripture itself, under the censure of 
the Catholic Church."* Melchior Canus, bishop of 

* Si quando occurrit novus sensus textui consonus, nee k sacra. 
Scriptura, nee ab ecclesiae doctrina dissonus, quamvis a torrente 
doctorum sacrorum alienus, rogo lectores omnes ne prsecipites detes- 
tentur, sed aequos se praebeant censores. Meminerint jus suum uni- 
cuique tribuere : solis sacrae Scriptura3 auctoribus reservata auctoritas 
haec est, ut ideo sic credamus esse, quia ipsi ita scripserunt. Alios 
autem (inquit Augustinus) ita lego, ut quantalibet sanctitate doctrina- 
que praepolleant, non ideb credam sic esse, quia ipsi ita scripserunt. 
Nullus itaque detestetur novum S. Scriptural sensum, ex hoc quod 
dissonat priscis doctoribus ; sed scrutetur perspicaciiis textum et con- 
textum Scripturae, et si quadrare invenerit, laudet Deum, qui non 
alligavit expositionem S. Scripturarum priscorum doctorum sensibus, 
sed Scriptures ipsi integrae sub Catholicae ecclesiaa censura. — Thorn. 
de Vio Card. Cajet. praf. in Pentat. 


the Canary Islands, having before declared himself, 
according as Augustine has done, saying that the 
Holy Scriptures only are exempt from all error, fur- 
ther adds: "But there is no man, however holy or 
learned he be, who is not sometimes deceived, who 
does not sometimes dote, or sometimes slip."* Then 
adducing some of those examples which we have be- 
fore produced, he concludes in these words: "We 
should therefore read the ancient Fathers with all due 
reverence ; yet, as they were but men, with discrimi- 
nation and judgment." t A little afterwards he says, 
"That the Fathers sometimes fail, and bring forth 
monsters, out of the ordinary course of nature.";): And 
in the same place he says that " To follow the ancients 
in all things, and to tread every where in their steps, 
as little children use to do in play, is nothing else but 
to disparage our own parts, and to confess ourselves 
to have neither judgment nor skill enough for search- 
ing into the truth. No, let us follow them as guides, 
but not as masters." 

" It is very true (says Ambrosius Catharinus in like 
manner) that the sayings and writings of the Fathers 
have not of themselves any such absolute authority, 
as that we are bound to assent to them in all things."§ 

The Jesuits also themselves inform us sufficiently 
in many places, that they do not reckon themselves 
so tied to follow the judgment of the Fathers in all 
things, as people may imagine. 

Petavius, in his annotations upon Epiphanius, con- 
fesses freely, " That the Fathers were men; that they 
had their failings; and that we ought not maliciously 
to search after their errors, that we may lay them 

* Cseteroqui nemo quantumvis eruditus, et sanctus, non interdum 
allucinatur, non alicubi coecutit, non quandoque labitur. — Melch. Can. 
loc. Theol. I. 7, c, 3, num. 4. 

f Legendum itaque & nobis Patres veteres cum reverentia quidem, 
sed ut homines, cum delectu atque judicio. — Id. Ibid. 

X Reliqui vero scriptores sancti inferiores et humani sunt, defici- 
untque interdum, ac monstrum quandoque pariunt, praeter conveni- 
entem ordinem institutumque naturae. — Ibid. num. 7. 

§ Verissimum ergo est, quod sanctorum dicta, vel scripta, in se 
non sunt firmae auctoritatis, ut in singulis teneamur illis praebere 
assensum. — Ambros. Catharin. lib, 4. Annot. in Cajet. j). 273. 


open to the world; but that we may take the liberty 
to note them whenever they come in our way, to the 
end that none be deceived by them: and that we 
ought no more to maintain or defend their errors, 
than we ought to imitate their vices, if at least they 
had any."* And again, "That many things have 
slipped from them, which if they were examined ac- 
cording to the exact rule of truth, could not be recon- 
ciled to any good sense :"t and that he himself has 
observed, " that they are out sufficiently, whenever 
they speak of such points of faith as were not at all 
called in question in their time." J To say the truth, 
he often rejects both their opinions and their exposi- 
tions, and sometimes very uncivilly too, as we have 
noticed before, speaking of his notes upon Epipha- 
nius.§ In one place, (the authority of some of the 
Fathers which contradicted his opinion on the exposi- 
tion of a certain passage in Luke, being objected 
against him) never taking the least notice of their tes- 
timonies, he answers — " That we ought to interpret 
and expound the Fathers by Luke, rather than Luke 
by them; because they cannot herein say any thing 
but what they have received from Luke."|| This in 
my judgment was very judiciously spoken; and be- 
sides exactly agrees with what Augustine said before, 
and which may very well be applied to the greatest 
part of our differences; in all of which the Fathers 
could not know any thing, except what they learned 
out of the Scriptures: so that their testimonies in these 

* Nos ea, qua par est, moderatione in divinorum hominum, sed 
hominum, errores, ac lapsus non tam inquirimus, quam oblatos ultrd, 
ac vel invitis occurrentes, ne cui fraudi sint, patefacimus: tueri 
autem, ac defendere, nihilo magis quam eorum vitia, si quae fuerint, 
iraitari debemus. — Petav. in Epiph. p. 205. 

tQuanquara multa sunt a sanctissimis patribus, praesertim a Chry- 
sostomo in Homiliis aspersa, quae si ad exactae veritatis regulam 
accommodare volueris, boni sensus inania videbuntur. — Id. in Epiph. 
p. 244. 

I Id. ibid. p. 285. § Supr. c. 14. 

|| Nee est quod certorum patrum opponatur auctoritas, qui non 
aliud affirmare possunt, quam quod ex Luca didicerunt, neque est 
ulla ratio cur ex illorum verbis Lucam interpretemur potius, quam 
ex Luca quae ab illis asseverari videntur. — Petav. in Epiph. p. 110. 


cases ought, according to the opinion of this learned 
Jesuit, to be expounded and interpreted by the Scrip- 
tures, and not the Scriptures by them. And this is 
the language of all the rest of them. 

Maidonate, as bitter an enemy of the Protestants as 
ever was, having delivered the judgment of some of 
the Fathers, who were of opinion that the sons of 
Zebedee answered not so rightly, when, being asked 
by our Saviour, whether or not they were able to 
drink of his cup and to be baptized with the baptism 
that he was baptized with, they said unto him, that 
they were able ; adds, " That for his part, he believes 
that they answered well."* In another place, ex- 
pounding Matthew xix. 11, having first brought in the 
interpretations of various, and indeed in a manner of 
all, the Fathers, he says at last, " That he could not 
be persuaded to understand the passage as they did !"t 
Here you are to observe by the way, that the mean- 
ing of this passage is still controverted at this day. 
How then can this man conceive that the Protestants 
should think themselves bound necessarily to follow 
the judgment of this major part of the Fathers, which 
they themselves make so light of? In another place, 
where he has occasion to speak of those words of our 
Saviour, which are at this day in dispute among us, 
" The gates of hell shall not prevail against it," he is 
yet much more positive, and says, " The sense of 
these words is not rightly given by any author that I 
can remember, except Hilary.":); So likewise upon 
Matthew xi. 11, where it is said, " The least in the 
kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist;" 
he says, " The opinions of the Fathers upon this pas- 
sage are very different ; and to speak freely, none of 
them pleases me."§ In like manner, upon the sixth 

* Malo ego credere, nee temere, nee inscienter, sed amanter et 
vere respondisse, &c. — Maldonat. in Matth. xx. 22. 

t Quam interpretationem adduci non possum ut sequar, &c. — Id. 
in Matt. xix. 11. 

X Quorum verborum sensus non videtur mihi esse, quern omnes, 
praeter Hilarium, quos legisse memini, auctores putant. — Id. in Matth. 
xvi. 18. 

§ Habet ex multis opinionibus quam eligat lector; sed si meam 


chapter of John; " Ammonius, (saith he,) Cyril, The- 
ophylact, and Euthymius, answer that all are not 
drawn, because all are not worthy. But this comes 
too near to Pelagianism."* 

Salmeron, a famous Jesuit, says thus: " Our adver- 
saries bring arguments from the antiquity of the 
Fathers; which I confess has always been of more 
esteem than novelty. I answer, " that every age has 
yielded to antiquity, &c. But yef we must take the 
liberty to say, that the later Doctors have been more 
quicksighted."t And again, " Against all this great 
multitude, which they bring against us, we answer 
out of the word of God; Thou shalt not follow a mul- 
titude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause, 
to decline after many, to wrest judgment. "% 

Michael Medina, disputing at the council of Trent, 
on the superiority of a bishop over a priest, the 
authority of Jerome and Augustine being produced 
against him, who both held that the difference betwixt 
them was not of divine but only of positive and eccle- 
siastical right, answers before the whole congregation, 
" That it is no marvel that they, and some others also 
of the Fathers, fell into this heresy; this point being 
not then clearly determined."§ 

That no one may doubt of the honesty of the his- 
torian who relates this, only hear Bellarmine, who 
testifies, " That Medina assures us that Jerome was, 
in this point, of Aerius's opinion : 'and that not only 
he but also Ambrose, Augustine, Sedulius, Primasius, 

quoque sententiam avet audire, libere fatebor, in nulla prorsus earum 
meum qualecunque judicium acquiescere. — Id. in Matt. xi. 11. 

* Ammonius, Cyrillus, Theophylactus, et Euthymius, respondent, 
non omnes trahi, quia non omnes digni sunt: quod nimis affine est 
Pelagianorum errori. — Id. in Joh. vi. 44. 

t Tertio, argumenta petunt a Doctorum antiquitate, cui semper 
major honor est habitus quam novitatibus. Respondetur, quamlibet 
aetatem antiquitati semper detulisse, &c. sed illud efferimus quo juni- 
ores, eo perspicaciores esse Doctores. — Salmer. in Ep. ad Rom. v. 
disput. 51. p. 468. 

X Denique contra hanc quam objectant multitudidem, respondemus 
ex verbo Dei, (Exod. xxiii.) " In judicio plurimorum non aquiesces 
sententiae, ut a vero devies." — lb. col. 1. 

§ Pietr. Soave Pol. hist. nel. concil. Trident. 1. 7. p. 575. 


Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecumenius, and Theophy- 
lact all maintained the same heresy."* 

We need not here adduce any more examples : for 
only read their commentaries, their disputations, and 
their other discourses, and you will find them almost 
in every page either rejecting or correcting the Fathers. 
But I must not pass by the testimony of Cornelius 
Mussus, bishop of Bitonto, who indeed is more in- 
genuous and clear than all the rest. " Rome (says 
he) to whom shall we go for divine counsels, unless 
to those persons to whose trust the dispensation of 
the divine mysteries has been committed? We are 
therefore to hear him, who is to us instead of God, in 
things that concern God, as God himself. Certainly 
for my own part (that I may speak my mind freely) 
in things that belong to the mysteries of faith, I had 
rather believe one single Pope than a thousand Au- 
gustines, Jeromes, or Gregories, that I may not speak 
of Richards, Scotusses, and Williams ; for I believe and 
know that the Pope cannot err in matters of faith, be- 
cause the authority of determining all such things as 
are points of faith, resides in the Pope."t This passage 
may seem to some, to be both a very bold and a very 
indiscreet one : but yet whoever shall but examine the 
matter seriously, and as it is in itself, and not as it is 
in its outward appearances only, which are contrived 
for the most part only to amuse the simpler sort of 
people, I am confident he will find that this author 
has both most ingenuously and most truly given the 

* Michael Medina in lib. 1. de sacr. horn. orig. et contin. c. 5 t 
affirmat S. Hieronymum idem omnino cum Aerianis sensisse : neque 
solum Hieronymum in ea haeresi fuisse, sed etiam Ambrosium, 
Augustinum, Sedulium, Primasium, Chrysostomum, Theodoretum, 
GEcumenium, et Theophylactum. — Bellarm. de Cler. I. 1. cap, 15. 

f A quo, Roma, quaerenda sunt divina consilia, nisi ab illis, quibus 
mysteriorum Dei dispensatio creditaest? Quern ergo pro Deo habe- 
mus, in his quae Dei sunt quicquid ipse dixerit tanquam Deum audire 
debemus. Ego (ut ingenue fatear) plus uni summo Pontifici crede- 
rem in his, qua? fidei mysteria tangunt, quam mille Augustinis, Hie- 
ronymis, Gregoriis; ne dicam Richardis, Scotis, Gulielmis. Credo 
enim, et scio, quod summus Pontifex, in his quae fidei sunt, errare 
non potest ; quoniam auctoritas determinandi quae ad fidem spectant, 
in Pontifice residet. — Corn, Muss, episcop, Bitont, in ep. ad Rom, c, 
14. p. 606. 


world an account in what esteem the Church of Rome 
holds the Fathers. For, since these men maintain 
that the Pope is infallible, and confess withal that the 
Fathers may have erred ; who sees not, that they set 
the Pope much above the Fathers? Nor may it here 
be replied, that they do not all of them hold that the 
Pope is infallible. For, besides that those among 
them who contradict this opinion are both the least 
and the least considerable part also of the Church of 
Rome, these very men attribute to the Church existing, 
in every age, this right of infallibility, which they will 
not allow the Pope: insomuch that a council now 
called together, is, according to their account, of much 
greater authority than the ancient Fathers. So that 
the only difference between these men and the fore- 
mentioned Italian bishop, is, that whereas they will 
have the authority of the ancient Fathers to submit 
to the whole body of modern bishops assembled in a 
general council; he will have their authority to be less 
than that of a single Pope alone. All that can be 
found fault with in that speech of his, is, perhaps, his 
hyperbolical expression, of a thousand Augustines, 
Jeromes, and Gregories, all which joined together, 
he, in too disdainful a manner, casts down beneath 
the feet of one single Pope. But this height of ex- 
pression may be somewhat excused in him, consider- 
ing that such excesses as these are very common with 
all high and free minded persons. 

But the practice of the Church of Rome itself will 
be able to inform us more truly and clearly what 
esteem they have of antiquity. For if we ought to 
stand to the Fathers, and not to depart from any thing 
they have authorized, nor to ordain any thing which 
they were ignorant of, how comes it to pass, that we 
at this day see so many various observances and cus- 
toms which were observed by the ancients, now quite 
laid aside ? And whence is it that we find in antiquity 
no mention at all of many things which are now in 
great request amongst us ? There are as it were three 
principal parts in religion; namely, points of belief, of 
ceremony, and of discipline. We shall run over lightly 


all three, and so far as is necessary only for our pre- 
sent purpose ; that so we may let the world see, that 
in every one of these three parts they have both abol- 
ished and established many things expressly against 
the authority of the ancients. 

As for the first of these, we have already given the 
reader some specimens only in the preceding chapters. 
For we have seen that the opinion of the greatest part 
of the ancient Church on the state of the soul, till the 
time of the resurrection, which besides is at this day 
also maintained by the Greek Church, was condemned 
not much above two hundred years since, by the 
Church of Rome, at the council of Florence; and a 
quite contrary belief there established, as an article of 
the Christian faith. 

We have seen besides, that the opinion of the Fa- 
thers of the primitive church, and even down as far 
as to the end of the sixth century after our Saviour 
Christ, and afterward, was, that the eucharist was as 
necessary to salvation as baptism ; and that conse- 
quently it was to be administered to little children. 
But for all this, the council of Trent has condemned 
this opinion as an error in faith; anathematizing, by 
canon made expressly for that purpose, all those who- 
ever should maintain the same. " Let him be accursed 
(say they) whoever shall say that the eucharist is ne- 
cessary for little children before they come to years of 
discretion."* That the Fathers might not take offence 
hereat, as having so fearful an affront put upon them; 
these men have endeavoured to persuade both them 
and others, that they never did believe that, which 
themselves have most clearly, and in express terms, 
protested that they did believe, as we have before 
made it appear: which is, to double the injury upon 
them, rather than to make them any reparation for it ; 
seeing that they deal with them now, not as heretics 
only, but as fools also; whom a man may at pleasure 

* Si quis dixerit, parvulis, antequam ad annos discretions perve- 
niant, necessariam esse eucharistiae communionem, anathema sit. — 
ConciL Trident. Sess. 21. Can. 


persuade that they do not believe that which they 
really do believe. 

We have abundantly heard, out of Jerome's mouth, 
how the opinion of the Millennarians was of old main- 
tained by several of the ancient Fathers ; which yet 
is now condemned as an error in faith. And indeed 
the number of these kinds of differences in opinion is 
almost infinite. 

It was accounted no error in those days to believe 
that the soul was derived from the father down to the 
son, according to the ordinary course of generation : 
but this opinion would now be accounted a heresy. 

The ancients held, " that it would be opposing the 
authority of the Scriptures, if we should hang up the 
picture of any man in the Church,"* and "that we 
ought not to have any pictures in our churches, that 
that which we worship and adore be not painted upon 
a wall."t Now the Council of Trent has ordained 
quite the contrary, and says : " That we ought to have 
and to keep, especially in our churches, the images of 
Christ, of the Virgin the mother of God, and of the 
other saints ; and that we are to yield unto them all 
due honour and veneration. "J 

All the ancient Fathers,§ as far as we can learn 
out of their writings, believed that the blessed Virgin 
Mary was conceived in original sin. If now the 
Fathers of the council of Trent accounted them to be 
the judges of faith, why did they fear to be thought 
to hold their opinion on this point? For, having de- 
livered their definitive judgment in a decree there 
passed to this purpose, and declared that this sin, which 

* Cum ergo haec vidissem in ecclesia Christi contra auctoritatem 
Scripturarum, hominis pendentem imaginem, &c. — Epiphan. ep. ad 
Joh. Hierosol t. 2. p. 317. c. 2. 

t Placuit picturas in ecclesia esse non debere, ne quod colitur aut 
adoratur, in parietibus depingatur. — Cone. Either. Can. 36. 

X Imagines porro Christi, Deiparae Virginis, et aliorum Sanctorum, 
in templis prsesertim habendas et retinendas, eisque debitum honorem 
et venerationem impertiendam. — Condi. Trid. Sess. 25. Decreto de 
Invocat. 8$c. Sanctorum. 

§ Ambros. August. Chrysost. &c. de quibus vide Melch. Canum de 
loc. Theolog. 1. 7, num. 3. 


has spread itself over the whole mass of mankind by- 
propagation and not by imitation, has seized on every 
person in particular; they at length conclude, "That 
their intention is not to comprehend within this num- 
ber the blessed and unspotted Virgin Mary, the mo- 
ther of God:"* which words of theirs it is impossible 
so to expound, that they shall not in plain terms give 
the lie to all the Fathers. For if they mean, by these 
words, the Virgin Mary was conceived without sin, 
they decidedly establish an opinion contradictory to 
that of the Fathers : which is the grossest manner that 
can be of giving them the lie. If they mean here no 
more than this, (which sense yet their words will 
scarcely be ever made to bear,) that it is not known, 
as a certain truth, that the Virgin Mary was conceived 
in sin; they however honestly say, in plain terms, that 
these good men affirmed as true that which is yet 
doubtful, and maintained as certain that which was 
but problematical only and questionable. 

The council of Laodicea, which is inserted in the 
code of the Church Universal, puts not into the ca- 
nont of the Old Testament any more than twenty -two 
books ; excluding by this means out of this number 
the book of Tobit, Judith, the book of Wisdom, Eccle- 
siasticus, and the two books of the Maccabees. Meli- 
toj bishop of Sardis, Origen,§ Cyril of Jerusalem, || 
Gregory Nazianzen,1T Hilary,** and Epiphanius,tt all 
do the same. Athanasius4 J Ruffinus,§§ and Jerome,|| || 
expressly reject these very books from the canon. And 

* Declarat tamen haec ipsa Sancta Synodus, non esse suae intenti- 
onis comprehendere in hoc decreto, ubi de peccato originali agitur, 
B. et immaculatam Virginem Mariam, Dei genitricem. — Cone. Trid, 
Sess. 5 Decreto de Pecc. Origin. 

f Cone. Laod. Can. 59, 60. Cod. Graec. Can. Eecl. Univers. Can. 163. 

X Melit. Sard, apud Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. 4. c. 27. 

§ Origen. apud Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 1. 6. c. 26. et in Philocal. c. 3. 

|| Cyril. Hieros. Catech. 4. 

f Greg. Nazianz. Carm. 33. t. 2. p. 98. 

** Hilar. Praefat. in Psal. fol. 2. 

ft Epiphan.l. de ponder, et mens. t. 2. p. 162. 

XX Athan. ep. festal, t. 2. p. 38, 39, et Synops. Script, p. 58. 

§§ Ruffin. Expos. Symb. inter opera Cypr. p. 552. 

IIH Haec Prol. Galeato, et Prol. in lib. Salom. ad Paul, et Eustach. 
et Prol. in libr. Sal. ad Chron. et Heliod. et praefat. in Esdr. 


yet the aforesaid council of Trent "anathematizes 
all those who will not receive, as holy and canonical, 
all these books, with every part of the same as they 
are wont to be read in the Church, and as they are 
found in the old Latin edition, commonly called the 
vulgar translation."* 

Besides the affront which they have offered to so 
many of the ancient and most eminent among the 
Fathers, and indeed to the whole primitive Church 
itself, which received this canon of Laodicea amongst 
its universal rules, they have also established a posi- 
tion here which was not till then so much as ever heard 
of in Christendom; namely, that the old vulgar trans- 
lation of the Bible is to be admitted as canonical and 
authentic in the Church of God. 

The hundred-and-fifty Fathers of the second general 
council, and the six hundred and thirty of the fourth, 
were all of them of opinion that the ancients had ad- 
vanced the see of Rome above that of other bishops, 
by reason of the pre-eminence and temporal greatness 
of the city of Rome over other cities: and for the 
same reason they also thought good to advance in 
like manner the throne of the patriarch of Constanti- 
nople to the same height with the former, by reason 
of the city where he resided being now arrived to the 
self-same height of dignity with Rome itself.t 

I assure you, that for all this he would now be 
Anathema Maranatha, whoever should go about to 
derive the supremacy of the Pope from any other 
original, than from — " Tu es Petrus:" and " Pasce 

* Siquis autem libros ipsos integros, cum omnibus suis partibus, 
prout in ecclesia Catholica legi consueverunt, et in veteri vulgata 
Latina editione habentur, pro sacris et canonicis non susceperit, &c. 
anathema esto. — Cone. Trident. Sess. 4 Deer, de Can. script. 

t Toy juivrci Kw<Trxvrivo7rGte6i); z7ri<ntc,?rcv, \%tiv r* 7rpio~jkidL t«? rt/utiz 
/uirct <rov m; 'Pay/ac \7riTK07rov, £1* to uvcii cdirm ve*v 'Pgojuhv. . . . Concil. 
Constant. I. Can. 3. Kxt yxp to> bpevee t»? TrpiQ-fiuTepotg 'Pco/uhs, &11. ro 

^CLO-lKiVUV TttV 7T0XIV iKUVHV, CI TTarepiS itKOTU; uTTO^CDKAO-i TCt ■* piff fill*, <&iC. 

fieiav r» 7ripo~@v<Tipx fizo-ihift 'Pcdjum, k%i zv rot; Ikkkwiolo-tikgis 1? iKtivnv 
/uiyct\vvi<rbcii 7rpaLyfjLA<xt. — Cone. Chalced. Can. 28. 


The council of Trent anathematizes all those who 
deny that bishops are a higher order than priests :* 
and yet Jerome,t and divers others of the Fathers 
openly hold the doctrine. 

We have already told you, that the Church of Rome 
long since excommunicated the Greeks, because they 
held, that the Holy Ghost proceeds not from the Son, 
but from the Father only. And yet Theodoret, who 
expressly denied that the Holy Ghost proceeds from 
the Son, as we have shown in the preceding chapter, 
was received by the ancient Church, and in particular 
by Pope Leo, as a true Catholic bishop, without re- 
quiring him to declare himself any otherwise, or to 
give them any satisfaction on this point. 

Indeed we might enumerate many similar differ- 
ences between the Roman and the ancient Church: 
but these examples will suffice to show how the 
Church of Rome maintains that the authority of the 
opinions of the ancients ought to be accounted su- 

We shall proceed, in the next place, to say some- 
thing of the ceremonies in the Christian religion. 

The first of all is Baptism, which takes us out of 
nature's stock, and engrafts us into Jesus Christ. Now 
it was a custom heretofore in the ancient Church, to 
immerse those they baptized in the water; as Ter- 
tullian,J Cyprian,§ Epiphanius,|| and others testify. 
And indeed they plunged them thus three times; as 
the same TertullianlT and Jerome** inform us. This is 
still the practice both of the Greek and the Russian 
Church. Yet, this custom, which is both so ancient 
and so universal, is now abolished by the Church of 
Rome. And this is the reason that the Muscovitestt 

* Si quis dixerit Episcopos non esse Presbyteris superiores, &c. 
anathema sit. — Cone Trid. Sess. 23, cap, 4, et Can. 7. 

f Hieron. passim; vide suora lib. 1. c. ult. 

t Tertul. lib. de Cor. Mil. c. 3. 

§ Cypr. ep. 76, p. 211, ubi vide Pamel. 

II Epiphan. Pan. Hser. 30. p. 128. 

IT Tertul. lib. de Cor. Mil. c. 3, et lib. adv. Prax. c. 26. 

** Hieron. Dial, advers. Lucifer, t. 2, p. 187. In lavacro ter caput 

tt Cassand. 1. de Bapt. Inf. p. 693. 



say, that the Latins are not rightly and duly baptized, 
because they use not this ceremony in their baptism, 
which they say is expressly enjoined them in the 
canons of Joannes the Metropolitan, whom they hold 
to have been a prophet. Indeed, Gregory the Greek 
monk, who was, notwithstanding, a great stickler for 
the union, in the council of Florence, yet confesses in 
his answer to the epistle of Mark, bishop of Ephesus, 
that it is necessary in baptism, that the persons to be 
baptized should be thrice dipped in the water. * At 
their coming out of the water, in the ancient Church, 
they gave them milk and honey to eat,t as the same 
authors witness; and immediately after this they made 
them partakers also of the blessed communion, both 
great and small : whence the custom still remains in 
Ethiopia, of administering the eucharist to little chil- 
dren, and making them take down a small quantity 
of it, as soon as they are baptized. J 

What have these great adorers of antiquity now 
done with these ceremonies? Where is the milk, or 
the honey, or the eucharist, which the ancient Fathers 
were wont to administer to all, immediately after bap- 
tism? Certainly these things, notwithstanding the 
practice of the ancients, have been now long since 
buried and forgotten at Rome. 

In ancient times they often deferred the baptizing 
both of infants and of others, as appears by the his- 
tory of the emperors Constantine the Great,§ of Con- 
stantius,|| of Theodosius,1T of Valentinian, and of Gra- 
tian in Ambrose ;** and also by the Homilies of Grego- 
ry Nazianzen,tt and of Basil,Jf upon this subject. 
Some of the Fathers too were of opinion, that it is 

* Greg. Mon. Protosync. in Apol. contr. ep. Marc. p. 721. t. 4, 
Cone. gen. 4 Ot/ /uiv avayxxtov ivvi jcai <tq£icl rptm xurxSuo-zav, &c. 

+ Deinde egressos lactis et mellis praegustare concordiam. — Tertul. 
et Hieron. ubi supr. 

X Alvarez, in his voyage to Ethiopia. 

§ Euseb. de vita Constant. 1. 4. 

II Socrat. hist. Eccl. 1. 3 V c. 37. IF Id. 1. 4, c. 6. 

** Ambros. orat. de obit. Valentin, t. 3, p. 9. 

tt Greg. Nazianz. Orat. 40. 

tt Basil, homil. us Bcc7rn<r/uov Tr/torpeprrtKn* 


proper it should be deferred ; for instance, Tertullian, 
as we have formerly noticed. 

How comes it to pass that there is not now so 
much as the least trace or footing of this custom to be 
found at this day in the Church of Rome? Nay, 
whence is it that they would regard a man with hor- 
ror, that should but attempt to put it in practice? 

I shall here forbear to speak of the times of admin- 
istering baptism, which was performed ordinarily in 
the ancient Church, only on the eves of Easter day, 
and of Whitsunday; neither shall I say any thing of 
the ceremony of the Paschal taper, and the albes, or 
white vestments that the newly baptized persons were 
used to wear all Easter week;* because it may be 
thought perhaps that these are too trivial : although, 
to say the truth, if we are to regard the authority of 
men, and not the reason of the things themselves, I 
do not see why all the rites should not still be retained, 
as well as those exorcisms, and renouncings of the 
devil and the world, with all its pomps and vanities, 
which, in imitation of antiquity, are at this day, though 
very improperly, acted by them over little infants, 
though only a day old. 

As for the eucharist, Cassander shows clearly that 
it was celebrated in the ancient Church with bread 
and wine, offered by the people :t and that the bread 
was first broken into several pieces, and then conse- 
crated and distributed among the faithful. Notwith- 
standing, the contrary use has now prevailed ; nor do 
they consecrate any bread which is offered by the 
people, which was the ancient custom, but only little 
wafer cakes, made round in the form of a coin; which 
yet is very sharply reproved, in the old exposition 01 
the " Ordo Romanus"% &c. The same Cassander 
also gives us an account at large,§ how in ancient 
times the canonical prayer, and the consecration 01 
the eucharist, were read out with a loud voice, and 

* Cassand. in hymno, p. 227, 228. 
t Cassand. in Liturg. c. 26. 
X Apud Cassand. in Liturg". c. 26, p. 60. 
§ Cassand. in Liturg. p. 63, 64, c. 28. 


in such a manner that the people might all of them 
be able to hear it, so that they might say Amen to it; 
whereas the priest now pronounces it with a very 
low voice,* so that none of the congregation can tell 
what he says; and hence it is, that this part of the 
liturgy is called secret. 

We have heretofore shown,t that the ancient Fa- 
thers concealed, as carefully as they could, the matter 
and the rites used in the celebration of this holy sacra- 
ment ; which they never performed in presence either 
of the catechumens or of unbelievers. But now there 
is not any such care taken in this respect; for they 
celebrate the eucharist openly and publicly, even be- 
fore Jews, Pagans, or Mohammedans, without any 
more regard to these ancient rules, than if there had 
never been any such custom. And as if the design 
of these men were to run counter to antiquity in all 
things, when the sacrament was concealed as much 
as possible, they show it now openly, and carry it 
publicly abroad every day through the streets, and 
sometimes also go in solemn procession with it : which 
custom of theirs is of very late standing among Chris- 
tians, and which heretofore would have looked not 
only very strange, but would have been accounted 
rather profane and unlawful. And thus have the 
customs and observations of the ancient Fathers been 
quite laid aside, and other new ones, which they never 
heard of, instituted in their place. 

The same Cassander also proves,;): that in ancient 
times they celebrated the eucharist only in the pre- 
sence of those that were to communicate ; and that all 
the rest withdrew. It is clear, that Chrysostom very 
bitterly reproves those who would be present at the 
celebration of the eucharist without communicating. 

Indeed we at this day see, in the Ethiopic liturgy, 
that the Gospel being read, the deacon cries aloud : 
" All you, that will not receive the sacrament, depart: 
withdraw, you catechumens." And again, after the 
creed is sung, he says to the people, " Let them that 

* Cone. Trid. Sess. 22, c. 5, et can. 9. + Lib. i. c. 5. 

X Cassand. in Liturg. 55, c. 26. 


will not communicate, depart.' 5 But now-a-days, for 
the most part, none of those who are present at the 
celebration, communicate of it: they content them- 
selves with adoring the sacrament only, without par- 
taking of it at all ; whence you have this manner of 
expression: — "to hear mass;" and " to see mass" 
Chrysostom says: "Whosoever shall stay here, and 
not participate of the mysteries, behaves himself like 
an impudent, shameless person. I beseech you, (says 
he) if any one- that were invited to a feast, should 
come and sit down after he has washed his hands, 
and fitted himself to come to the table, and at length 
should forbear to touch any of those dishes which are 
served in upon it, would not this be a very great 
affront to him who invited him? Had he not better 
have forborne coming at all? It is the very same case 
here. Thou hast come, and hast sung the hymn, and, 
seeing thou hast not retired with those that were not 
worthy, hast thereby also professed thyself to be of 
the number of those who are worthy. How comes it 
to pass that, seeing thou hast staid behind, thou dost 
not communicate of this table?" &c.* 

If any man should now preach this doctrine to the 
Romanists, would they not laugh at him? inasmuch 
as their custom in this particular is far different (as 
every one sees,) from what it was heretofore in the 
ancient Church. 

It is as clear as the day, that all along in the ancient 
Church it was lawful for any of the faithful to take 
home with them the holy eucharist, which they might 
keep in any private place, to take it afterwards by 
themselves alone, whenever they pleased. Whence it 
is that Tertullian advises those that durst not com- 
municate upon the days appointed for that purpose, 
for fear of breaking their fast, to keep the body of 

* n*? yap o fxn /uere%a>v rw juvo-th^iccv dvctKr^vvraig, kxi Itci/uoo; iO-rnKans 
&C, ~Ei7Ts pot, u rig i)g iT<rtx.<Ttv kKhQu;, <tcls %eif>*e vi-^aito, k*i *3tTtf;cX/9«, 
kzi zroi/uoz ytvono 7rpoe t»v T/Ja^rsijav, urst fjw /usrt^Gi' cv%i vfipt^et rov 
KXKvrnvTcL ; ob /3sM-/ov tgv toisutov /unfe Trap&ymrQsui q'j<tu> Si nut <ru tta^cl- 
ytyovcis, rov v/xvov jf<r*c {Aira. Trctvrw, *juG\oy»<rots zivzi rm afyw, roo /u» /mer* 
<rm avafyw avstiti^aipiiJtivAi' ircec l/umas % x*i ob /uin^ng ttk Tpa7ri^ng, — 
Chrysost. Homil. 3, in ep. ad Ephes. t. 3, p. 778, edit Savilii. 


Christ by them, " Receiving the body of Christ (says 
he,) and keeping it by thee, both are preserved en- 
tire ; both the participation of the sacrifice, and the 
discharge of thy duty."* 

This appears also by a story related by Cyprian, of 
a certain woman " who going about to open, with 
unworthy hands, a coffer of hers, where the eucharist 
was laid up, she presently saw fire breaking out 
thence; which so amazed her, that she durst not 
touch it."t 

Ambrose also, a long while after Cyprian, testifies 
sufficiently that this custom in his time continued in 
the Church ; where he tells the story of his brother 
Satyrus, who being upon the sea, and in danger of 
shipwreck, " And fearing lest he should go out of the 
world without the holy mysteries (for he was yet but 
of the number of the catechumens,) he made his ad- 
dresses to those whom he knew to have been initiated, 
and desired of them to give him the divine sacrament 
of the faithful: not that he might therewith satisfy 
the curiosity of his eyes, but that it might strengthen 
his faith. And thus having put it into a handkerchief, 
and then tying the handkerchief about his neck, he 
threw himself into the sea, and was saved. "J 

If Rome indeed bears such great respect to the 
Fathers, as they would make us believe, why has she 
not then retained this custom? Why then should that 
which was then so ordinarliy practised, be now in our 
days so much disliked, that they will not by any means 
permit the friars to keep the eucharist in their con- 
vent, nor yet in their choir, nor in any other place, 
save only the public church. § 

* Accepto corpore Domini, et reservato, utrumque salvum est, et 
participatio sacrificii, et executio officii. — Tertul. lib. de or at. c. 14. 

t Cum queedam arcam suam, in qua Domini sanctum fuit, mani- 
bus indignis tentasset aperire, igne inde surgente deterrita est, ne 
auderet attingere. — Cyprian. 1. de laps. p. 244. 

t Non mortem metuens, sed ne vacuus mysterii exiret e vita quos 
initiatos esse cognoverat, ab his divinum illud fidelium Sacramentum 
poposcit, non ut curiosos oculos insereret arcanis sed ut fidei suae 
consequeretur auxilium. Etenim ligari fecit in orario, et orarium in- 
volvit collo, atque ita se dejecit in mare. — Ambros. de obit. Satyr, p. 
19, t. 3. 

§ Cone. Trid. Sess. 25, de regul. et Mon. cap. 10. 


Ambrose informs us moreover, that in those times 
they made no scruple at all of carrying the eucharist 
upon the sea; which custom of the ancients is so 
much disliked by the Church of Rome in our days, 
that they hold it an unlawful thing, either to conse- 
crate or to carry the sacrament ready consecrated, 
upon any water whatever, whether it be that of the 
sea or of rivers. 

This very custom of the ancients keeping the sacra- 
ment by them, proves very clearly that the faithful 
in those days received the sacrament with their hands: 
which is also plainly enough intimated by Tertullian ; 
where, inveighing against those among the Christians, 
who were sculptors and painters by profession, he 
reproves them " for touching the body of^our Saviour 
with those very hands which bestowed bodies on 
devils:"* that is to say, with those hands wherewith 
they made idols. Cyprian is clear in point in divers 
places;! Gregory Nazianzen also testifies the same in 
his sixty-third poem: — OvSs %eps$ $pi6<sov<siv, inriv *% nvamv 
iSufyv Tfsivsi^i &c. And in the canons of the council 
of Constantinople in Trullo, held in the year of our 
Lord 680, there is one which appoints, "That he, 
who is to communicate, place his hands in the form 
of a cross, and so receive the communication of grace :" 
(16 1 (,$ tov azpavtov 6cofiai?o$, &c.)§ which had been the 
practice from the time of Cyril of Jerusalem. Yet 
there is no one but knows that this custom has no 
place now in the Church of Rome ; where the com- 
municants receive the eucharist, not with their hand 
but with their mouth, into which it is put by the priest. 

I would also gladly be informed, by what canon of 
the ancient Church those single masses, which are 
now celebrated and said every day, where none com- 
municates but the priest alone who consecrates the 
host, were instituted or permitted : and moreover how 

* Eas manus admovere corpori Domini, quae daemoniis corpora 
conferunt. — Tertul. lib. de Idol. cap. 7. 

t Cyprian, ep. 56, et lib. de bono Patientiae, p. 316. 
t Greg. Naz. Carm. 63. 
$ Synod. Quinis. Can. 101. 


that respect which they pretend they bear to antiquity, 
can stand with that canon of the council of Trent, 
which says : " Whosoever shall say, that those masses 
wherein the priest alone communicateth sacramen- 
tally, are unlawful, and fit to be abolished, let him be 
accursed:"* seeing that this kind of masses was utter- 
ly unknown to the ancient Church, as Cassander 
proves at large, in his " Consultatio de Jirticulis 
Religionist written to the emperor Ferdinand.t 

But that which most of all gives offence to those 
devoted to antiquity, is the custom which the Church 
of Rome has introduced and established, by the ex- 
press decrees and canons of two of their general 
councils, the one held at Constance,:): and the other 
at Trent,§ of not allowing the communion of the cup 
to any but to the priest who consecrates the same ; 
excluding by this means, first, all the laity; and se- 
condly, all the priests and others of the clergy, who 
had not the consecrating of it : whereas the whole 
ancient Church, for the space of fourteen hundred 
years, admitted them both to the communion of the 
holy and blessed cup, as well as to the participation 
of the consecrated bread ; as those two councils them- 
selves confess, in the preface to this New Constitu- 
tion. || And this is still the practice also at this day 
among all Christians throughout the world, Russians, 
Greeks,1T Armenians, Ethiopians,** Protestants,tt and 
all others in general, except the Latins only, who 
are of the communion of the Church of Rome. But 
besides the ancients permitting this communion under 
both kinds (as they use to speak,) it seems (which 

* Si quis dixerit missas, in quibus solus sacerdos sacramentaliter 
communicat, illicitas esse, ideoque abrogandas, anathema sit. — Cone. 
Trid. Sess. 22, c. 6, et Can. 8. 

+ Cassan. Consult, ad Ferdin. &c. p. 995, et in Liturg. p. 83. cap. 33. 

X Cone. Const. Sess. 13. 

§ Cone. Trid. Sess. 21, c. 1, et 2, Can. 2. 

|| Licet ab initio Christian® religionis non infrequens utriusque 
speciei usus fuisset. &c. — Ibid. c. 2. 

IT Jerem. P. CN. Resp. 1. ad Witemb. 

** Alvarez, in his voyage, ch. 11. 

tt Confession of the Church of England, art. 12. 


is yet much more) that unless it were in some extra- 
ordinary cases, they did not at all permit the commu- 
nicating under one kind only. For otherwise, why 
should Pope Leo give this very thing, as a mark to 
distinguish the Manichees from the Catholics? "When 
they sometimes are present at our mysteries (says he) 
that so they may hide their infidelity, they so order 
the matter, in their participating of these mysteries, 
that they receive the body of Christ into their unwor- 
thy mouth, but will not take into it one drop of the 
blood of our redemption:" and he further adds, 
" That he gives his auditory this warning, that they 
may know those men by this mark."* Should this 
pope now arise from his grave, and come into the 
world again, he would certainly believe that all those 
who adhere to his see, were turned Manichees, except 
the consecrating priests alone. How besides would 
you be able, without this hypothesis, to explain that 
decree of pope Gelasius, which says, " We are inform- 
ed, that there are some, who having taken a small 
portion of the sacred body only, forbear to partake of 
the consecrated blood; doing this, as we hear, out of 
I know not what superstitious conceit wherewith they 
are possessed; we therefore will, that they either par- 
take of the whole sacrament, or else that they be 
wholly put back from communicating; forasmuch as 
there cannot, without very great sacrilege, be any 
division made in one and the same mystery."! 

Indeed what can you otherwise say to that story 
which is related by the accusers of Ibas bishop of 
Edessa ; that having one time made but a very scan- 
ty provision of wine for the service of the altar, which, 

* Cumque ad tegendam infidelitatem suam nostris audeant inter- 
esse mysteriis, ita in sacramentorum communione se temperant, ut 
interdum tutius lateant, ore indigno Christi corpus accipiunt, sangui- 
nem autem redemptionis nostrae omnino haurire declinant. Quod 
ideo vestram volumus scire sanctitatem, ut vobis hujusmodi homines 
et his manifestentur indiciis, &c. — Leo 1, P. R. Serm. 4, de Quadrag. 
p. 108. 

f Comperimus autem, quod quidam sumpta tantummodo corporis 
sacri portione, a calice sacri cruoris abstineant, &c. quia divisio 
unius ejusdemque mysterii sine grandi sacrilegio non potest prove- 
nire. — Gelas. Joh. et Maj. Episc. Decret. de Consecrat. dist. 2, c. 12. 


after it had been begun to be distributed to the com- 
municants, began quickly to fail: "He perceiving 
this, beckoned to those who delivered about the holy 
body, that they should come back again ; because he 
had no more of the blood of our Saviour:" — 'aws 

>toi$ tfo ayiov tfwjtta Siavsfiovaw svsvtisv eitfshOsw avfovt, ij$ 
fov alpatos py evpLGxofisvov.* 

What need was there of ordering them to suspend 
the business, because there was no more wine, if it 
was at that time lawful to distribute the bread alone, 
without the wine? If the councils of Trent and of 
Constance had accounted the authority of the Fathers 
as supreme, how came it to pass that they abolished 
that which had for so long a time, and so constantly, 
been observed by them? And how again does this 
other canon of the council of Trent agree with that 
deference which they pretend to bear towards anti- 
quity; where it is said that "Whosoever shall say 
that the holy Catholic Church has not been induced 
by just causes and reasons to communicate, under the 
species of bread only, to the laity, and even to the 
priests also, who do not consecrate ; or that it has err- 
ed in this point, let him be accursed."t 

It seems to be no very easy matter to acquit the 
modern Church, without condemning the ancient, 
their practices being manifestly contradictory to each 
other ; the modern Church forbidding that which the 
ancient permitted; and the ancient Church seeming 
to have expressly forbid that which the modern com- 

How can you say that the one had just reasons for 
what it did, unless you grant that the other, in doing 
the contrary, had either no reason at all, or else but 
very unjust ones; seeing that it is most clear that 
neither the world nor the times are any whit changed, 
within these two hundred years, from what they were 
before ? For it is impossible for any man to allege any 

* Act. Concil. Chalced. act. 16, p. 356, torn. 2, Coneil. gen. 

t Si quis dixerit sanctam Ecclesiam Catholicam non justis causis 
et rationibus adductam fuisse, ut laicos, atque etiam clericos non con- 
ficientes sub panis tantummodo specie communicaret, aut in eo erras- 
se, anathema sit. — Cone, Trid. Sess. 21, Can. 2. 


reason for the practice of the moderns, which should 
not in like manner have obliged the ancients: nor 
again to produce any reason for the contrary practice 
of the ancients, which does not in like manner oblige 
the moderns. So that of necessity, either the one or 
the other of them must needs have been guilty either 
of error, or, at least, of negligence and ignorance. 
We may very well therefore conclude, that the Church 
of Rome, seeing it believes itself to be infallible, 
manifestly in this particular condemns the ancient 
Church, as guilty of ignorance, or of negligence at 
the least; which in my judgment seems not so well 
becoming those persons who do nothing else but con- 
tinually preach to us the honour of antiquity. But 
here will all the true reverers of antiquity have an 
ample field for reflexion. For as for those reasons, 
by which the Fathers of the council of Trent were 
induced to make the afore-mentioned decree, how 
(will they say) can we know whether they were just 
or not ; seeing that they themselves produce none at 
all? Whereas the reasons which induced the ancients 
to do as they did, which may be found in a certain 
discourse printed at Paris, at the end of Cassander's 
works, are very sound and clear, and in my judgment 
very full both of wisdom and of charity.* 

We need not enter further into this disputation : it 
is sufficient for my purpose, that the Church of Rome, 
in doing thus, has manifestly abolished a very ancient 
custom in the Church. 

Besides these ceremonies, which were practised by 
the Fathers in baptism and in the eucharist, they have 
laid aside many other also, which were formerly in 
use in the Church. I shall not here speak of fasting 
on Saturdays, which is observed by the Church of 
Rome, contrary to the ancient practice of the whole 
Christian Church, who all accounted it unlawful : be- 
cause this difference in practice is as ancient as 
Augustine's time,t and therefore ought not to be 
imputed to the modern Church of Rome. I shall for 

* Inter Opera Cassand. pag. 1019. 

t August, t. 2, Ep. 86, ad Casulan. p. 74 et 75. 


the same reason also pass by what Firmilianus says ;* 
namely, that in his time, about two hundred and fifty 
years after the nativity of our Saviour Christ, "Those 
of Rome did not in all things observe whatsoever had 
been delivered from the beginning; and that they in 
vain alleged the authority of the Apostles." 

I must here remark, that anciently it was a general 
custom throughout all Christendom, not to kneel, 
either upon the Lord's days, or upon any day betwixt 
Easter-day and Whit-Sunday, which custom has been 
generally abolished by the entire Church of Rome : 
and yet whether you consider the antiquity, or whe- 
ther you look upon the authority of those who both 
practised this themselves, and also recommended it to 
our observance, you will hardly find any more venera- 
ble custom than this. For the author of the " Ques- 
tions and Answers," attributed to Justin Martyr, 
makes mention of this custom, and moreover gives 
the reason and ground of it; and besides proves by a 
certain passage, which he produces out of Irenseus, 
that it had its beginning in the Apostolical times.t 

Tertullian also speaks of this custom:! and both 
Epiphanius,§ and Jerome, || class it among the insti- 
tutions of the Church : and what is yet more than all 
this, the sacred general council of Nice authorizes the 
same, by an express canon made to that purpose. 
" Forasmuch as there are some (say these three hun- 
dred and eighteen venerable Fathers, who kneel upon 
the Lord's day, and upon the days of Pentecost; to 
the end that in all parishes, (or as we now speak, 
dioceses,) there may be the same order observed in 
all things, this holy synod ordains that (on these days) 
they pray standing :"f this ancient constitution was 

* Eos qui RomoB sunt non ea in omnibus observare, quae sint ab 
origine tradita, et frustra Apostolorum auctoritatem prsstendere. — 
Firmil. in Ep. ad Cypr. qua est inter Epist. Cypr. 75. 

t 'Ejc tm a7roo-ro\t>uov hi xpovav a roisturn a-uvyiBun exafle r»v o^m, tt*0a>? 
<p»criv q {ASDatptos Eipnvxto; o fixprus, Kelt \7riTH.Q7ros AovySovviv, h too 7repi tcu 
TLdLo-^A xoya, &c. — Pseud. Just. Q. et R. Quaest. 115. 

t Tertul. 1. de Coron. milit. cap. 3. 

§ Epiph. in Panar. in conclus. operis. 

|| Hieron. Dial, contr. Lucifer, p. 187, t. 2. 

^ 'EmtJii run; u<riv h <t» KuptoutH yovu x.\ivovreg t kxi zv <rctts rue UiVDtKoa-T^ 


revived and explained in the council of Constantino- 
ple in Trullo,* towards the end of the 7th century; 
where it was expressly forbidden to kneel during the 
space of those twenty-four hours that pass between 
Saturday evening and Sunday evening. Every one 
is also aware how they have abrogated the fast, that 
was wont to be observed upon the fourth day of the 
week, that is Wednesday; which yet was the practice 
of the ancients, as appears by what we find in the 
pseudo-Ignatius,t in Peter % bishop of Alexandria and 
a martyr, in Epiphanius,§ Clemens Alexandrinus,|| 
and others. 

By the same liberty have those vigils been abol- 
ished, which were ordinarily kept by the ancient 
Church, and both approved and defended also by 
Jerome, against Vigilantius, who found fault with 
them;1[ though his opinion has now at length found 
more favour in the world than Jerome's. The same 
Father, in another place, delivers to us, for apostoli- 
cal tradition, that custom which they had in his time, 
of not suffering the people to depart out of the church, 
upon Easter-eve, till midnight was past.** What is 
now become of this custom, which was not only an 
ancient one, but was derived also from the Apostles 
themselves, if you believe Jerome ? 

We are informed, from several hands, that that 
command of abstaining from blood, and from things 
strangled, was for a long time observed in the Church. 
And it appears evidently enough, that it was most 
rigidly kept in the primitive times, both from the tes- 

sJo£s <t» aytct luvofu)) rxg &j%ste a.7ro^ovAt too 6g&>. — Con. Nic. Can. 20. 

* Synod. Quinisex. Can. 90. 

t Ignat. Epist. 5. \ Petr. Alexand. in MS. 

§ Ttvt efg ob <ru{Ji7riq)av»T!tl h 7Tsl<ti kxi/uxsi th? oikovjuwhc ort Ttrpxg, kxi 
Trpoo-xfifi'jLTov vno-TUA \<rriv h rv Ekkkh^u Lpir/um* — Epiph. Panar. h&r. 
15.Aerii,p. 910. 

|| Clem. Alex. Strom. 1. 7. p. 317. 

1f De Vigiliis et pernoctationibus M artyrum saepe celebrandris, &c. 
— Hieron. I. cont. Vigil, p. 163. 

** Unde reor et traditionem apostolicam permansisse, ut in die 
Vigiliarum Paschae ante noetis dimidium populos dimittere non liceat, 
expectantes adventum Chrisli.— Id. Com. 4, in Malth. p. 121. 


timony of Tertullian* and of Eusebius.t The council 
of Constantinople in Trullo excommunicates all those 
of the laity, and deposes all those of the clergy, who 
shall offend herein.J And Pamelius, in his notes upon 
Tertullian's *flpologetics§, informs us, that it is not 
long since that the observance of this custom was first 
laid aside among Christians, it being not much above 
four hundred years since there were certain penances 
appointed for those that should violate the same. Yet 
notwithstanding all its antiquity and universality, it 
is at length quite disused; the church of Rome having 
very gently, and by little and little, laid it aside; no 
one, that I know of, having taken the least notice 
either of the time when, or the manner how, it was 
done: only this we all see plain enough, that it is 
now entirely out of use. 

The same may be said of that custom of praying 
for the saints departed, which was clearly the prac- 
tice of the ancients. " We pray (says Epiphanius) for 
the just, the Fathers, the Patriarchs, the Prophets, 
Apostles, Evangelists, Martyrs, &c, that we may dis- 
tinguish the Lord Jesus Christ from the order of men, 
by that honour which we pay unto him."|| 

We have also some of their prayers to this purpose 
yet remaining: as in the liturgy of James.1T In the 
Syriac liturgy of Basil,** after they had mentioned the 
Patriarchs, the Prophets, John Baptist, Stephen, the 
Virgin Mary, and all the rest of the saints, they at 
last added : " We daily send up our prayers and sup- 

* Tertul. Apolog. p. 38. t Euseb. hist. Eccles. 1. 5, c. 2. 

X Synod. Quinis. Can. 7. 

§ Pamel. in Apolog. Tertull. num. 38. 

|| K*/ ysip folLXtW TTOlOV/lAiQst THV /UVVJUW, JCOCt V7Tip TM a/UUtprO&XCOV , &C. 

V7rtf> <Tg Jifc*/a>v, kxi 7f&repcev, jcxi TrcLrptapXjuv, x*t Trpo^nTcev, kxi dflwroA.av, jcm 
thxyyiKHTravj xcti /uctpTUpav, kui o/uoxoywrav, \7ria-K.Q7roov ts, kzi dvx.^p» r rcev, 
Kcti 7ra.vros tov Ta.yfAx.TQS, Ivx tqv Kupiov lyirovv XpiTTOV aqopHranjuev d.7ro tuq 

Tft-7 avQpO)7ra)V TCt^iCO^ $L*. TUg 7TpOC CLUTOV TlfJMS, KM PifttLS ctilTlX dTToSat/ULiV, &C. 

— Epiph. Pan. Haer. 75, Aerii, p. 911. 

IT MvutBhti Kvpie Qeos tcov 7rvwjuctTW, teat 7TA(n}C trapM;, J,y g/uv»o"0tyw, text 

CjV OUK ifAVH^6n f UiV f OpBo^m, &7T0 A@ih TOU flttCllQU, /Ui%J>l TH$ (TJIJUi^OV fl/uepxf 

ctuTog \kii clutqvs &vx7r*u<rcv, h X^P* fywreov, h t» flxrtxeix trou, &C. — 
Liturg. Jacob, p. 29, edit. Par. an. 1560. apud Guliel. Morell. 
** Liturg-. Syriac. Basil. 


plications unto thee for them." And a little after, 
" Lord, remember also (says the priest) all those who 
are departed this life, and the orthodox bishops, who 
have made a clear and open profession of the true 
faith, from the Apostles Peter and James, to this day ; 
of Ignatius, Dionysius," &c. And then he says with 
a loud voice, " Remember also, Lord, those who have 
persevered even to blood, for the word of a good 
fear." So likewise in the liturgy of Chrysostom; 
" We offer unto thee this reasonable service, for all 
those who have departed in thy faith," &c. — 'o*6 

Ttpoayspopsv aov fqv %oyixriv favrqv %atpsvav vrtsp Iujv iv 
7ii6tn ava7iavo[Asv(4V rtportatffpcuv, 7tatf*£co»', Tt(xrpiapx ciiV } rtpo- 

Yet the Church of Rome has utterly abolished this 
custom, and without all question believes that you 
could not do the saints a greater injury, than now 
making any such supplications for them ; and those 
who are curious may observe many other similar 
differences between the ancients and the Church of 
Rome, in their customs and ceremonies. 

As to their discipline also there is not less dis- 
crepancy. One of the chief of these differences, and 
which indeed is the origin of a great portion of the 
rest, is in the elections and ordinations of ecclesiasti- 
cal ministers, which is the true basis and ground- 
work of the discipline and ministry of the Church. 

It is clear that in the primitive times they depended 
partly on the people, and not wholly on the clergy; 
but every company of the faithful either chose their 
own pastors, or else had leave to consider and to ap- 
prove of those that were proposed to them for that 
purpose. Pontius, a deacon of the Church of Car- 
thage, says that "Cyprian, being yet a Neophyte, 
was elected to the charge of pastor, and the degree of 
bishop by the judgment of God, and the favour of the 
people."! Cyprian also tells us the same in several 

* See also Liturg. St. Marc. t. 2, Gr. Lat. Bibl. PP. p. 34. Ta>v iv 
7ri<r<rii X^cttov 7rp6Ki}iot/AH/uiVtov 7retTifieev ts xxi uSiX<pGov rocs -^v^ccs dVX7rxutrov, 
YLupie, &c. ; — kxi review 7rsLvra>v rats -^v^ocs av£ t ^7rorsc 9 &c. 

t Judicio Dei, et plebis favore, ad officium Sacerdotii, et episcopa- 


places. In his fifty-second epistle, speaking of Cor- 
nelius, he says, " That he was made bishop of Rome 
by the judgment of God, and of his Christ, by the tes- 
timony of the greatest part of the clergy, by the suf- 
frage of the people who were there present, and by 
the college of pastors, or ancient bishops, all good 
and pious men."* In another place he says, that " It 
is the people in whom the power chiefly is, of choosing 
worthy prelates, or refusing the unworthy. Which 
very thing (says he) we see is derived from divine 
authority, that a bishop is to be chosen in the pre- 
sence of all the people ; and is declared either worthy 
or unworthy by the public judgment and testimony;! 
therefore (says he a little afterwards) ought men dili- 
gently to retain and observe, according to divine tra- 
dition and apostolical custom, that which is also ob- 
served by us, and in a manner by all other provinces; 
namely, that for the due and orderly proceeding in 
all ordinations, the neighbouring bishops of the same 
province are to meet together at that place, where a 
bishop is to be chosen; and the election of the said 
bishop is to be performed in the presence of the peo- 
ple of that place, who fully know every man's life, 
and by their long conversation together, understand 
what their behaviour has been. "J 

Hence it was that Eusebius, bishop of Nicomedia, 

tus gradum adhuc neopbytus, et ut putabatur, novellus electus est. 
— Pont. Diac. in vita Cypr. 

* Factus est autem Cornelius episcopus, de Dei et Christi ejus 
judicio, de clericorum pcene omnium testimonio, de plebis, quae tunc 
affluit suffragio, et de Sacerdotum antiquorum, et bonorum virorum 
collegio. — Cyprian, ep. 52, p. 97. 

t Quando ipsa (plebs) maxime habeat potestatem vel eligendi dig- 
nos Sacerdotes, vel indignos recusandi. Quod et ipsum videmus de 
divina auctoritate descendere, ut Sacerdos plebe praesente sub omnium 
oculis deligatur, et dignus atque idoneus publico judicio ac testimonio 
comprobetur. — Id. ep. 68, p. 166. 

t Propter quod diligenter de traditione divina, et Apostolica obser- 
vatione observandum est, et tenendum, quod apud nos quoque, etfere 
per provincias universas tenetur, ut ad ordinationes rite celebrandas, 
ad earn plebem, cui praepositus ordinatur, episcopi ejusdem provincias 
proximi quique conveniant, et episcopus deligatur plebe praesente, 
quae singulorum vitam plenissime novit, et uniuscujusque actum de 
ejus conversatione perspexerit. — Ibid. p. 166. 


finding fault with many things in the ordination of 
Athanasius, accounted this also among the rest, that 
it had been performed without the consent of the 
people.* To which, answer was made by the coun- 
cil of Alexandria,! that the whole people of Alexan- 
dria had with one voice desired him for their bishop, 
giving him the highest testimonies both for his piety 
and his fitness for that charge. In like manner Julius 
bishop of Rome, among other faults which he found 
in the ordination of Gregory, who had been made 
bishop of Alexandria, adds, "That he had not been 
desired by the people:" — M^ aUrfiivta Ttapa Ttps^vi'f- 

pu>v, firj Ttap 9 Z7ti6xoTtQjV) (A7j riapa ?-acov, &C.J 

It appears clear enough, both out of Jerome,§ and 
by the acts of the council of Constantinople, || and of 
Chalcedony and also by the Pontificale Roman- 
nm** and several other productions, that this custom 
continued a long time in the Church. But it is now 
above seven hundred and fifty years since the Church 
of Rome ordained, in the 8th Council, (which not- 
withstanding has been always unanimously and con- 
stantly rejected by the Eastern Church to this very 
day,) that the promotions and consecrations of bishops 
should be performed by the election and order of the 
college of bishops only, forbidding, upon pain of ex- 
communication, "all lay persons whatsoever, even 
princes themselves, to meddle in the election or pro- 
motion of any patriarch, metropolitan, or any other 
bishop whatsoever;" declaring withal, "that it is not 
fit that lay persons should have anything at all to do 
in these matters : it becoming them rather to be quiet, 

* Athan. Apol. 2, p. 726, et 727. 
. f Ibid. 726, 728. 

X Julius ap. Athan. Apol. 2, p. 748, 749. 

§ Hieron. 1. 1. adv. Jovin. p. 57, t. 2, et Com. 10, in Ezech. p. 
968, t. 4, et Com. in Agg. p. 512, t. 5. et Com. 1, in Ep. ad Gal. p. 
271, t. 6. 

|| Cone. Const. 1, in Ep. ad Damas. p. 94 et 95, t. 1, Cone. 

IT Cone. Chalced. act. 11, p. 375, t. 2. Cone. Gen. et act 16. p. 
430, &c. 

** Pontific. Rom. in Ordinat. Presbyter, fol. 38, vide supr. I. 1, 
c. 4. 



and patiently to attend, till such time as the election 
of the bishop who is to be chosen be regularly finish- 
ed by the college of clergymen."* 

Thus have they, by this one cannon-shot, beaten 
down the authority of the Fathers, and of the primi- 
tive Church; who always allowed to the faithful 
people some share in the elections of their pastors. 
Neither has this custom been able ever since to lift 
up its head; the people being (as every man knows) 
now more than ever defrauded of this their right, 
and having not the least share in the elections, not 
merely of popes, primates, or archbishops, but not so 
much as of the meanest bishop that exists. 

As the people anciently had their voice in the elec- 
tion of their pastors ; so probably also they had the 
like in all other affairs of importance that took place 
in the Church. In Cyprian's time, many, who during 
a very great persecution, had been forced to yield 
by the cruelty of the Pagans, being afterwards 
touched with a sense of their fault, desired to return 
to the Church again ; but yet to avoid the shame, and 
the length and rigour of those penances, which were 
usually imposed upon such offenders, the greatest 
part of them begged of their confessors to be favour- 
ably dealt with, and corrupted their priests, that so 
they might be received again into the communion of 
the Church, without undergoing canonical penance. 
Cyprian, who was a strict observer of discipline, wrote 
many things against this abuse ; by which it evident- 
ly appears, that the people had their right also in the 
hearing and judging of these causes. For in his tenth 
epistle he says, that those priests that had received 
any such offenders rashly, and contrary to the disci- 
pline of the Church, " should give an account of what 
they had done to himself, to the confessors, and to the 

* Neminem laicorum principum, vel potentum semet inserere elec- 
tioni vel promotioni Patriarchal, vel Metropolitae, aut cujuslibet epis- 
copi, &c. praesertim cum nullam in talibus potestatem quenquam 
potestativorum, vel ceterorum laicorum habere conveniat, sed po- 
tius silere, ac attendere sibi, usque quo regulariter a collegio ecclesiae 
suscipiat finem electio futuri pontificis. — Cone. 8. Can. 22, t. 3, Cone, 
p. 282. 


whole people."* In another place, writing to the 
people of Carthage, "When the Lord (says he) shall 
have restored peace to us all, and we shall have re- 
turned to the Church again, we shall then examine 
all these things, you also being present \ and judging 
of them "\ It is in the same epistle, and on this very- 
point, where he adds that passage, which we have 
before produced, in the chapter on the corruption of 
the writings of the ancients. " I desire them (says he) 
that they Avould patiently hear our counsel, &c, to the 
end that, when many of us bishops shall have met 
together, we may examine the letters and desires of 
the blessed martyrs, according to the discipline of the 
Lord, and in the presence of the confessors, and also 
according as you shall think jit" Hence it is, that 
in one of his former epistles, he protested to his clergy, 
"That from his first coming to his bishopric he had 
ever resolved to do nothing of his own head, without 
their advice, and the approbation of his people" % 
He who would yet be more fully, satisfied in this par- 
ticular, may read the fourteenth epistle of the same 
Father, and the twenty-eighth on the business of 
Philumenus and Fortunatus, two subdeacons; as also 
the fortieth on the business of Felicissimus : and 
the sixty-eighth, which he wrote to the clergy and the 
people of Spain jointly, commending them for having 
deposed their bishops, who were guilty of heinous 
crimes. § 

But that no man may think that this was the prac- 
tice of the Church of Carthage only, I should state 
that the clergy of Rome also approved of this resolu- 
tion of his, of bringing to trial, so soon as they should 
be at rest, this whole business, on those who had 

* Acturi et apud nos, et apud confessores ipsos, et apud plebem 
universam causam suam. — Cyprian, ep. 10. p. 30. 

t Cum pace nobis omnibus a Domino prius data, ad ecclesiam re- 
gredi caeperimus, tunc examinabuntur singula, praesentibus et judi- 
cantibus vobis. — Id. ep. 12. p. 33. 

t Quando a primordio Episcopatus mei statuerim, nihil sine con- 
silio vestro, et sine consensu plebis meae, privata sententia gerere. — 
Cypr. ep. 6. p. 19. 

§ Quae Scripta est nomine 66 episcoporum : et ep. 68, et in prae- 
fat. Concil. Carthag.— Id. ep. 14, et 28. et 40. et 59. 


fallen during the persecution, in a full assembly of 
the bishops, priests, deacons, and confessors, together 
with those of the laity who had continued firm, and 
had not yielded to idolatry.* And that which, in my 
judgment, is very well worth our observation, is that 
Cyprian himself, writing to Cornelius bishop of Rome, 
says, " that he does not doubt but that, according to 
that mutual love which they owed and paid to each 
other, he always read those letters which he received 
from him to the most eminent clergy of Rome who 
were his assistants, and to the most holy and most 
numerous people."t Whence it appears, that at 
Rome also the people had their vote in the managing 
of ecclesiastical affairs. 

I shall not need here to add any more, to show 
how much the authority and example of the ancients 
in this particular are now slighted and despised; it 
being evident enough to every man, that the people 
are not only excluded from the councils and consis- 
tories of the bishops r but that, besides, the man would 
now be taken for a heretic who should now only pro- 
pose, or attempt to restore, any such thing. But I 
beseech you now, only fancy to yourselves an arch- 
bishop, who, writing to the Pope, should address him 
thus : " Most dear brother, I exhort you, and desire 
of you, that what you are wont honourably to do of 
your own accord, you would now do at my request: 
namely, that this my epistle may be read to the dis- 
tinguished clergy who are your assistants there ; and 
also to the most holy and most numerous people." 
Would not the writer, think you, of such a letter as 
this, be laughed at as a senseless, foolish fellow; if at 

* Quanquam nobis in tam ingenti negotio placeat, quod et tu ipse 
tractasti prius, ecclesiae pacem sustinendam, deinde sic collatione 
consiliorum cum episcopis, presbyteris, diaconis, confessoribus, pari- 
ter ac stantibus laicis facta, lapsorum tractare rationem. — Epist. qa<B 
est inter Cypr. ep.31. 

f Quanquam sciam, frater charissime, pro mutua dilectione quam 
debemus et exhibemus invicem nobis, florentissimo illic Clero tecum 
praesidenti, et sanctissimae atque amplissimse plebi legere te semper 
litteras nostras; tamennunc et adrnoneo et peto, ut quod alias sponte 
atque honorifice facis, etiam petente me facias, ut hac epistola mea 
lecta, &c. — Cypr, ep. 55. ad Cornel, p. 121. 


least he escaped so easily? and met with no worse 
usage? Yet, this is the very request that Cyprian 
made to Pope Cornelius. 

But as the bishops and the rest of the clergy have 
deprived the people of all those privileges which had 
been conferred upon them by antiquity, as well in the 
election of prelates, as in other ecclesiastical affairs; 
in like manner is it evident, that the Pope has engross- 
ed into his own hands, not only this booty of which 
they had robbed the people, but also in a manner all 
the rest of their authority and power; as well that 
which they heretofore enjoyed, according to the 
ancient canons and constitutions of the Church, as that 
which they have since, by various admirable means, 
by little and little acquired, in the space of some cen- 
turies. All this has now entirely disappeared, I know 
not how, and been swallowed up by Rome in a very 
little time. 

The three hundred and eighteen Fathers of the 
council of Nice ordained. " That every bishop should 
be created by all the bishops of his province, if it 
were possible; or at least by three of them, if the 
whole number could not so conveniently be brought 
together : yet with this proviso, that the absent bishops 
were consenting also to the said ordination: and that 
the power and authority in all such actions should 
belong to the metropolitan of each several province :" 

'JLrtitixortov TtpoGqxsi fia%06ta psv vrto rCavtcov fav sv £7tcto%ia, 
xaS i<S*o,6d 0.1, &C.* 

This ordinance of theirs is both very agreeable to 
the practice of the preceding ages, as appears by that 
sixty-eighth epistle of Cyprian, which we cited a 
little before, and was also observed for a long time 
afterward by the ages following; as you may per- 
ceive by the epistle of the Fathers of the first council 
of Constantinople to Pope Damasus;t and also by 
the discourse of those that sat as presidents at the 
council of Chalcedon, on the rights of the patriarch of 
Constantinople in his own diocese. 

* Cone. Nic. Can. 4. 

fConc. Const. I. in Ep. ad Damas. p. 94. t. 1. Cone. Gener. 


Notwithstanding all these things, the whole world 
knows and sees what is the practice of the Church of 
Rome at this day, and that there is not any true 
power or authority left to the metropolitans and their 
councils, in the ordinations of the bishops within their 
own dioceses: but the whole power, in this case, 
depends on the Pope of Rome, and on those whom he 
has entrusted herein, either of his own accord, or 
otherwise. Indeed all bishops are to make their 
acknowledgments of tenure to the Pope; nor may 
they exercise their functions without his commission; 
which they shall not obtain, without first paying down 
their money, and compounding for their first fruits, 
styling themselves also in their titles thus : — " We N. 
Bishop of N. by the grace of God, and of the holy 
Apostolical See," of which strange custom and title 
you will not meet with the least trace throughout all 
the records of antiquity; not so much as one of all that 
vast number of bishops, whose subscriptions we have 
yet remaining, partly in the councils, and partly in 
their own books and histories, having ever thus styled 

As for Provincial and Diocesan Synods, where 
anciently all sorts of Ecclesiastical causes were heard 
and determined; as appears both by the canons of the 
councils, and also by the examples we have left us ; 
as in the history of Arius, and of Eutyches, who were 
both anathematized; the one in the synod of Alex- 
andria, and the other in that of Constantinople ; they 
dare not now meddle with anything, except some 
trivial matters, being of no use in the greater causes, 
save only to inquire into them, and give in their infor- 
mation at Rome.* Nor can the meanest bishop be 
judged in any case of importance, which may be 
sufficient to depose him, by any but the Pope of 
Rome : his metropolitan and his primate, the synod 
of his province, and that of his diocese, (in the sense 
in which the ancients took this word,) having not the 

* Minores criminales causae episcoporum in concilio tantum pro- 
vincial! cognoscantur et terminentur, &c. — Cone. Trid. Ses$. 24. 
Decret. de ref. c. 5. 


least power in these matters, unless it be by an extra- 
ordinary delegation ; and having then only authority 
to draw up the business, and make it ready for hear- 
ing, and th^fi to send it to Rome : none but the Pope 
alone having power to give sentence in such cases, as 
it is expressly ordained by the council of Trent.* 

I shall here pass by the Pope's taking away from 
the bishops, contrary to the canons and practice of 
antiquity, all jurisdiction and power over a good part 
of the monasteries, and other companies of religious 
persons, both seculars and regulars, within their dio- 
ceses; his assuming wholly to himself the power of 
absolving and of dispensing in several cases, which 
they call reserved cases, (though in ancient times this 
authority belonged equally to all bishops;) and also 
his giving indulgences, and proclaiming jubilees ; 
things which were never heard of, in any of the first 
ages of Christianity. 

As for the discipline which was anciently observed 
in the Church towards penitents, whether in punish- 
ing them for their offences, or else in the receiving 
them again into the communion of the Church, it is 
now wholly lost and vanished. We have now nothing 
left us, save only a bare idea and shadow of it, which 
we meet with in the writings of the ancients ; in the 
canonical epistles of Gregorius of Neocsesarea, of 
Basil, and others, and in the councils, both general 
and provincial. 

Where are now all those several degrees of penance, 
which were observed in the ancient Church : where 
some offenders were to bewail their sins without the 
Church; some might stand and hear the word among 
the catechumens; others were to cast themselves down 
at the feet of the faithful. Some of them might par- 
take of the prayers only of the Church; and others 
were at length received again into the communion of 
their sacraments also. Where are those eight, those 

* Causae criminates graviores contra episcopos, &c. quae depositione 
aut privatione dignae sunt, ab ipso tantum summo Romano pontifice 
cognoscantur, et terminentur, &c. — Ibid, 


ten, those twenty years of penance, which they some- 
times imposed upon offenders? This whole course 
of penance, which we meet with every where in the 
writings of the ancients, is now wholly merged in 
auricular confession, wherein no part of the penance 
appears to the world. 

As these kinds of punishments, which were most 
wholesome for the penitents, have been quite abolished 
by them; so have they on the other side introduced 
other kinds of penalties, which are indeed very bene- 
ficial and advantageous to the temporal estate of the 
Church of Rome, but are most pernicious for the souls 
of offenders; such as their Interdicts, when, for the 
offence (and that oftentimes too, rather a pretended 
than a true one) of one or two single persons, or per- 
haps of a corporation, they will deprive a whole state, 
wherein there are perhaps many millions of people, 
of the participation of the holy sacraments, which are 
the means by which the grace and the life of Jesus 
Christ is communicated unto poor mortals; an exam- 
ple of which kind of proceeding was practised by 
Pope Paul V. in my childhood, against the state of 
Venice. In what code of the ancient Church can 
you discover that any such strange kind of punish- 
ment was ever instituted, as that, for the offence of a 
few, many millions of souls should be damned? How 
can you call that power apostolical, which punishes 
in this manner; seeing that the apostolical power was 
given for edification, and not for destruction? 

I would also wish to learn of any man, that could 
tell me, upon what canons of the ancient Church that 
sanguinary discipline of the Inquisition is grounded; 
where, after they have extracted from a poor soul, by 
crafty dealing, and many times also by such barbarous 
usage as would make one tremble to read, a confes- 
sion of his being guilty of heresy, instead of instruc- 
tion, they pass upon him sentence of death, and he is 
forthwith delivered over to the secular magistrates : 
to whom notwithstanding, in plain mockery both of 
God and man, they give an express charge, that they 


do not put him to death.* Yet in case they fail of so 
doing, and if within six or seven days after at the 
most, they do not burn him alive,t (and all this without 
ever hearing his cause or what his offence is,) J they 
themselves shall be prosecuted by ecclesiastical cen- 
sures, and shall be excommunicated, deposed, and de- 
prived of all dignities both ecclesiastical and temporal. 

That which yet surpasses all belief is, that although 
the person questioned should confess his fault, and 
should express his hearty sorrow for it, and should by 
way of satisfaction submit himself to the severest 
penance that could be ; yet would not the poor wretch 
escape death, if he be of the number of those whom 
they call the relapsed^ 

most inhuman cruelty, worthy of the Scythians, 
and the Lsestrigonians only ! but very ill becoming the 
disciples of him who commanded his apostle to par- 
don his brother, not seven times only, but seventy 
times seven: and as ill beseeming those who so highly 
boast of being the successors and inheritors of those 
mild and tender-hearted ancients, who taught, " That 
it is the part of piety not to constrain but to persuade, 
according to our Saviour's example, who constrained 
no man, but left every man to his own liberty, to fol- 
low him or not.... And that the devil, as he has no 
truth in him, comes Avith axes and with hammers to 
break open the doors of those that must receive him. 
But our Saviour is so meek, that his manner of teach- 
ing is, i If any one will follow me:' and ' He that will 
be my disciple;' neither does he constrain any one to 
whom he comes, but rather stands at the door of every 
one, and knocks, saying, ' Open to me, my sister, my 
spouse ;' and so enters, when any open to him: but 
if they delay, and will not open to him, he then de- 
parts; because the truth is not to be pressed with 

* Nicol. Eymeric. Director. Inquis. P. 2. c. 27. p. 127. et ibi Pegna. 
item P. 3. p. 512. 

t Pegna in Direct. Inquis. P. 3. q. 36. 

X Direct. Inquis. P. 3. Q. 36. et ibid. Pegna, p. 563. Comra. 85.- 
p. 564. 

§ Direct. Inquis. P. 3. modo 9. termin. process, p. 510. et ibi 


swords and arrows, nor with soldiers and armed men, 
but by persuasion and counsel/'* 

The ancients also sharply reprehended the Arians, 
for going about to establish and maintain their religion 
by force ; saying, " Of whom have they learnt to per- 
secute their brethren? Certainly they cannot say that 
they have learnt it of the saints: no, they have rather 
had the devil for their tutor herein." And again: 
" Jesus Christ has commanded us to fly, and the saints 
have indeed fled sometimes: but persecution is the 
invention of the devil." t 

In another place they protest, that " By that very 
course which the Arians took in banishing (which yet 
is much less than burning,) all those who would not 
subscribe to their decrees, they clearly showed them- 
selves to be contrary to all Christians, and to be the 
friends of the devil and his fiends. "J 

In like manner has another of the ancient Fathers 
exclaimed against the proceeding of these Arians, 
who made use not only of the terror of persecution, 
but of the enticements also of worldly riches, that 
thus they might the more easily draw men over to 
their belief. " But now, alas ! (says this Father,) 
worldly suffrages recommend the faith of God : Christ 
is now become weak and void of power, and ambition 
gains credit to his name. The Church terrifies by 

* Qeo<n@iiz$ (j.iv yctp Ifoov fxw uv&ynx^uv, dxxct 7ruQuv t iccti yap o Kvptog 

ovtos oh @i*£o/j.zvoCi aXXA th 7rpoa,tpicrzt Si£ovq Ixzyz 7ra.<ri /uzv, tl tic Bzxu 07rt<re» 

fAOV ZXBilV, &C. . . . . O /UZV flCtfioXOS \7M /Uwfw aKijBiC Z%it, * V TfSXMU ICdLl 

XctfyvTyipioo z7ri/2xivG)v kztz*£u rag Bvpzs tcov Jz^o/utvav olvtov & 1toTv\p cCrag 
Yovi 7rpa.oc f mS S'iScta-Kiiv /uev, si <n; Bzxzi hmo-co [aov exBziv, Jcai Bzxav zlvcti juou 

fA*BnTHS' Ip^OfXiVOV efg 7TpO$ IxctG-TQV, f*Y\ filcL^&BdHy CtXXct jUXXXGV XpOVUV T2, X.4J 

Xiyuv, dvoi^ov juot, aftxqyi [aou vv/utyi)* xa.t uvotyovrav ftzv il<rep%ereu t qkvovvtmv 
fe, x.*i /utt BzXovtw Iksivw, avx^npet. 'Oi/ yctp gtqirtv, h faxiQ~iv, h h* pTpcLTt- 
«tw, &c. — Athan. in Ep. ad solit. vit. ag. torn. 1, p. 55. 

t UoBzv z/uaBov ccuroi to eJWcg/y; dno juzv yctp tccv ayioov ova dv zi7roizv &7ro 

efg tov Jixfioxov tovto etbrois 7rzpizixn7rTctt, &c Kcct to /uzv qzyyziv 

Kvpio; 7rpQ<rzTx£z, xcti 01 ayiot ztyvyov' to cTg Siaacuv fixfioxiKov zo~ti z7rt^zipn/uta 7 
x&i kata 7ra.vTW alios clitzitoli tovto* — Athan. Apol. 1. de fuga sua, p. 
716. Tom. 1. 

t Ol OvTOd yp&CpQVTK, 1>TTZ TO TZXog TCOV ypttfJLfXdLTOOV ttUTCVV Z%0piT[A.0V, KCtl 
diXXetg TtpjLooptug tyziv, Tl dv ztzv Ol TOlOUTOl J o\Xpt(TTldL\06V (*ZV dXXOTptOl, Jtafboxov 

Jg, xzt Tm zxztvou fat/movm yixot, — Athan. contr. Arian. Or. 1. 1. 1. p. 288. 


banishment and imprisonments, &c. She, that was 
consecrated by the terror of her persecutors, depends 
now upon the dignity of those who are of her com- 
munion. She who has been propagated by banished 
priests, now herself banishes priests. She boasts 
now that she is beloved of the world — who could not 
be Christ's, unless the world hated her."* Agreeable 
to what another of them says, " That the Church of 
Christ was founded by shedding her blood, and by 
suffering reproaches rather than by reproaching others: 
and that it has grown up by persecutions, and has 
been crowned by martyrdoms."! 

Another also of the chief among the ancient Fathers 
reproached an Arian for having made use of the sword 
and axe in ecclesiastical matters. " Those whom he 
could not deceive by his discourse, (says he,) he 
thought proper to use his sword against: uttering 
with his mouth, and writing with his hands, sanguin- 
ary laws: and thinking that a law can command 
men's faith."J And that you may not imagine that 
he himself thought that lawful which he found fault 
with in the Arians, he says, in another place, that in 
a certain journey which he made into Gaul, he re- 
fused to communicate with those bishops who would 
have some certain heretics to be put to death. § 

The emperor Marcian, in like manner, who called 

* At nunc, proh dolor ! divinam fidem suffragia terrena recommen- 
dant inopsque virtutis suae Christus, dum ambitio nomini suo conci- 
liating arguitur. Terret exiliis et carceribus Ecclesiae, credique sibi 
cogit, quae exiliis et carceribus est credita. Pendet ad dignationem 
communicantium, quae persequentium est consecrata terrore. Fugat 
sacerdotes, quae fugatis est sacerdotibus propagata. Diligi se glori- 
atur a mundo, quae Christi esse non potuit, nisi earn mundus odisset. 
— Hilar. I. contr. Aux. p. 86. 

t Fundendo sanguinem, et patiendo magis quam faciendo contu- 
melias, Christi fundata est ecclesia; persecutionibus crevit, martyriis 
coronata est. — Hieron. ep. 62, ad Theoph. t. 2. p. 274. 

X Qui (Auxentius) quos non potuerit sermone decipere, eos gladio 
putat esse feriendos; cruentas leges ore dictans, manu scribens; et 
putans quod lex fidem possit hominibus imperare. — Ambros. ep. 32, U 
3, p. 126. 

§ Postea cum videret me abstinere ab episcopis qui communica- 
bant ei, vel qui aliquos devios, licet a fide, ad necem petebant, &c. — 
Ambros. I. 2, ep. 27, t. 3. p. 106. 


together the council of Chalcedon, and was a prince 
that was highly commended for his piety, solemnly 
protests that " he had forced no man to subscribe, or 
to assent to the council of Chalcedon, against his will. 
For, (says he) we will not draw any man into the 
way of life by violence or by threats."* Indeed 
Hosius, bishop of Cordova, long before testified that 
the most Catholic emperor Constans never compelled 
any man to be orthodox, t And this is the course 
which is approved of by all the ancients. "God 
(says Hilary) has rather taught us the knowledge of 
himself, than exacted it of us : and giving authority 
to his commandments by the wonderfulness of his 
heavenly works, he has refused to force us to confess 
his name, &c. He is the God of the whole world: he 
has no need of a compelled obedience ; he requires 
not any forced confession."! These are the reasons 
this author brought to dissuade the emperor Constan- 
tius from using violence, and forcing the consciences 
of men. 

Ambrose says, " Christ sent his Apostles to plant 
the faith ; not to compel, but to instruct men ; not to 
exercise the force of power, but to promote the doc- 
trine of humility." § Hence the observation of Cy- 
prian when comparing the manner of proceeding in 
the Old Testament with that of the New: " Then the 
proud and the disobedient were cut off by the (fleshly) 
sword; now they suffer by the spiritual, being thrown 
out of the Church." || Certainly then they still live, 

* Ka/ » /uav »/uzrzpct yctxworHC ovStvt to evvoxov av&yMV iTnt^BuvAt 7rpo<r- 
ir*£tv, wo-ts m v7royp*Quv, h rvvcuvuv, u ov fiov\oiro' cvSi yap a7r6tkcttc^ » fii* 
Tiv-JL vrpos rnv t«? dx>j0s/tf? ocfov txituv ^ovko/aSa. — Marcian. ep. ad Archi- 
mandr. et Mon. JEg. in Act. Cone. Chalced. t. 2, Cone. Gen. p. 453. 

t Hujus ep. ad Constantium, apud Athan. in ep. ad solit. vit. ag. 
t. 1, p. 839. 

t Deus cognitionem sui docuit potius, quam exegit; et operationum 
coelestium admiratione prseceptis suis concilians auctoritatem, coac- 
tam confitendi se aspernatus est voluntatem, &c. Deus universitatis 
est; obsequionon eget necessario : non requirit coactam confessionem. 
— Hilar. I. 1, ad Const, fol. 84. 

§ Eos misit ad seminandam fidem, qui non cogerent, sed docerent. 
nee vim potestatis exercerent, sed doctrinam humilitatis attollerent. 
— Ambros. Com. in Luc. I. 7, p. 99. 

|| Tunc quidem gladio occidebantur, quando adhuc et circumcisio 


at this very day, under the Old Testament, in Spain, 
and Italy, and all those other places where the Inqui- 
sition is in force; and, I believe, he would find a 
very difficult task of it, whoever should take it in 
hand to reconcile this passage of Cyprian to that 
opinion of Pope Pius V.,* who said that bishops 
might have their officers and executioners of justice, 
for the causes that appertained to their jurisdiction; 
and might put their sentences in execution against 
offenders ; and that the reason of their having recourse 
upon all occasions to the secular powers, was, not 
because the Church could not make use of its own 
proper officers of justice in such cases, but rather 
because it had none ; or if it had, they were so weak, 
and so few in number, that for the suppressing and 
punishing of delinquents, it stood in need of the 
assistance of the temporal power. 

I shall conclude this subject with Tertullian, the 
most ancient author of the Latin Church, whom 
Pamelius (as we have noticed before) will have us to 
believe to have been a persecutor of heretics ; yet he 
was a man that would not allow a Christian so much 
as to draw a sword, neither in a war against a public 
enemy, nor in discharging the office of a magistrate 
upon offenders whom all civil laws punish with 
death. Hear what he says of religion. " Consider 
(says he to the Pagans) whether this be not to add to 
the crime of irreligion, to take away the liberty of 
religion, and to interdict a man the choice of his God, 
by not suffering him to worship whom he would, but 
to compel him to worship whom he would not. There 
is none, no not among men, that takes pleasure in 
being served by any against their will."t Some few 

carnalis manebat. Nunc autem, &c. spirituali gladio superbi et con- 
tumaces necantur, dum de ecclesia ejiciuntur. — Cyprian, ep. 62. 
p. 143. 

* Girolamo, Catena nella vita di Pio V. p. 126. 

t Videte enim ne et hoc ad irreligiositatis elogium concurrat, 
adimere libertatem religionis, et interdicere optionem divinitatis, ut 
non liceat mini colere quern velim, sed cogar colere quern nolim. 
Nemo se ab invito coli vellet, ne homo quidem. — Tertull. Apolog. c. 
24, p. 58. 


chapters afterwards he says, " It seems very unjust 
that freemen should be constrained to do sacrifice 
against their will. For, in the performing of service 
to God, a willing heart is required."* In another 
book, when speaking of the same thing, he says: "It 
is a point of human right, and a natural power that 
every man has to worship that which he thinks fit. 
The religion of another man neither hurts nor profits 
any one. Neither is it indeed the part of religion to 
compel religion ; which ought to be entertained will- 
ingly, and not by force ; inasmuch as sacrifices them- 
selves are required only from willing minds."t 

On this passage Pamelius gives us a marvellously 
rare gloss, saying, " That we ought not indeed directly 
to compel men to our religion, but yet we may punish 
them, if they will not change their opinion." Cer- 
tainly he thinks it is not compelling a man, to cause 
him to do a thing under pain of death. Let any man 
that can, reconcile the practice of the Inquisition, and 
the Pope's thunderbolt against king Henry VIII. and 
his daughter queen Elizabeth, and against some of 
the kings of France also, with this constant opinion of 
all antiquity. 

Now after the Romanists have thus boldly slighted 
the doctrines, the ceremonies, and the discipline of the 
ancients, by changing and abolishing whatever they 
have thought good; with what confidence can they 
still laud the Fathers, and adduce their testimonies, 
and place them upon the seat of judicature, and make 
them the judges of our differences? Or although they 
still do thus, who would not be ready here to bring 
against them those words of Tertullian, which he 
made use of in another similar case ? "I would be 
very glad (says he) that these great and religious de- 
fenders and maintainers of the laws and customs of 

* Quoniam autem facile iniquum videtur, liberos homines invitos 
urgeri ad sacrificandum. Nam et alias divinoe rei faciendae libens 
animus inducitur. — Id. Apolog. c. 28, p. 61. 

t Tamen humani juris, et naturalis potestatis est, unicuique quod 
putaverit colere : nee alii obest, aut prodest alterius religio. Sed nee 
religionis est cogere religionem, quae sponte suscipi debeat, non vi; 
cum et hostiae ab animo libenti expostulentur.— -Id. I. ad Scapuh c. 2. 


their fathers, would answer me a little as to their own 
faith, respect, and obedience, toward the constitutions 
of their ancestors; whether they have not departed 
from and forsaken some of them? whether they have 
not rased out those things which were most neces- 
sary and most useful in their discipline ? What has 
become of those ancient laws? &c. where is the reli- 
gion, where is the reverence which is due from you 
to your ancestors? You have renounced your fore- 
fathers, in your habit, apparel, manner of life, opin- 
ion, and also in your very speech. You are always 
lauding antiquity, yet every day you assume a new 
manner of life. "* 

Whether therefore they of the Church of Rome 
have upon just grounds dealt thus with the ancients 
or not, it answers my purpose notwithstanding to 
conclude, that by this their proceeding they have 
given us a sufficient testimony that they do not ac- 
count their authority supreme in matters of religion. 
And if so, what reason have they to urge it for such, 
against the Protestants? Seeing they have weakened 
the authority of so many of those judgments, on points 
of religion, which have been given by the Fathers, 
how can they expect that their authority should pass 
for authentic in any one? Let us suppose, for in- 
stance, that they held that there was such a place as 
Purgatory. But (will the Protestant say,) if you 
have found their belief to be so erroneous, on the 
state of the souls of departed saints, till the day of 
the resurrection ; why would you impose upon me a 
necessity of subscribing to what they held on Purga- 
tory? The laws of controversy ought to be equal; 
and therefore if you, by examining this opinion of the 
Fathers by reason and by the Scriptures, have found 

* Nunc religiosissimi legum, et paternorum institutorum protec- 
tores et ultores respondeant vclim de sua fide, et honore, et obsequio 
erga majorum consulta, si a nullo desciverunt ? si in nullo exorbitave- 
runt ? si non necessaria et aptissima quaeque discipline oblitterave- 

runt ? Quonam ilia? leges abierunt, &c Ubi religio ? ubi vene- 

ratio majoribus debita a vobis ? Habitu, victu, instructu, sensu, ipso 
denique sermone proavis renunciastis; laudatis semper antiquitatem, 
et nove de die vivitis. — Id. Apol. c. 6, p. 31, 33. 


it to be erroneous, why will you not give us leave to 
try that other on Purgatory, by the same touchstone ? 
Certainly, should we but speak the truth, it is the 
plainest mockery that can be, to cry out, as these men 
do continually, " The Fathers, the Fathers," and to 
write so many volumes upon this subject, after they 
have so dealt with them as you have seen. 

If it be here objected that the Protestants them- 
selves do also reject many of those Articles, which 
we have before noticed; we answer, that this is 
nothing at all to the purpose ; forasmuch as they take 
the Scriptures, and not the Fathers, for the rule of 
their faith ; neither do they press any man to receive 
any thing from the hands of the ancients, unless it be 
grounded upon the word of God. If, lastly, you say 
that the authority of the Fathers has no place, nor 
is at all considerable, in the points before set down, 
because the Church has otherwise determined on the 
same : this is clearly to grant us that which we would 
have, namely, that the authority of the Fathers is not 
supreme. As for the Church, how far its authority 
extends in these things, that is a new question which 
I shall not meddle with at this time. Only thus much 
I shall say, that whatever authority you allow it, 
whether little or much, you will still find that it will 
very hardly be able to do any thing, on the decision 
of our present controversies ; forasmuch as you can 
never be able to make any use of this position, till 
you are assured of what and where the Church is; 
seeing that the Protestants strenuously deny that it 
is that which appears at this day at Rome; and the 
greatest difficulty of all consists in demonstrating 
this to them. For if they did but once believe that 
the Church of Rome was the true Church, they would 
immediately join themselves with it; so that there 
would not henceforth be need of any further dispute. 

We shall therefore here conclude, that to adduce 
the testimonies of the Fathers on the differences that 
are at this day in religion, is no proper mode for the 
deciding them, seeing that it is no easy matter to dis- 
cover what was their judgment respecting the same, 


by reason of the many difficulties we meet with, in 
the writings of the ancients; nor is it of such sufficient 
authority in itself, as that we may safely establish 
our belief upon it, since the Fathers themselves were 
also subject to error. Neither, lastly, is it of any force, 
with either party; seeing that they both regulate and 
examine the opinions, ceremonies, and discipline of 
the ancients, the one by the rule of the Scriptures, 
and the other by that of the Church. 

Here I find, that upon this conclusion two questions 
may arise. For since an appeal to the Fathers is not 
sufficient for the deciding of those points that are now 
in dispute amongst us, it may be asked, in the first 
place, what other course we ought to take for attain- 
ing the truth in these controversies; and then, second- 
ly, how and in what cases the writings of the Fathers 
may be useful to us. Now, although both these ques- 
tions are without the compass of our present design, 
yet as they so closely border upon it, we shall, in the 
last place, say a word or two in answer to them. 

As for the first, it would be a difficult matter, in my 
judgment, to discover a better way for satisfaction on 
this point, than that which one Scholarius, a Greek, 
who is very highly esteemed by those who printed 
the general councils at Rome, has proposed. This 
learned man, in a certain oration of his, which he 
made at the council of Florence, for the facilitating 
the union which was then in treaty between the 
Latins and the Greeks, and was afterwards concluded, 
lays it down as a basis, " That we ought not to reject 
all those things, which are not clearly, and in express 
terms, delivered in the Scriptures: which is a pretext 
and evasion which many of the heretics make use of: 
but that we ought to receive with equal honour what- 
soever directly follows from that which is said in the 
Scriptures; and to reject utterly whatsoever shall be 
found to be contrary to those things which are un- 
doubtedly true." He says further, that " In those 
things wherein the Scripture has not clearly express- 
ed itself, we must have recourse to the Scripture itself, 
as our guide, to give us light therein, by some other 



passage, where it has spoken more plainly." And after 
all this he requires, " That we should use our utmost 
endeavour fully to reconcile those seeming contradic- 
tions, which we sometimes here meet with in several 
passages; to that purpose taking notice of the diver- 
sity of times, customs, senses, and the like."* 

Proceeding further, Scholarius says, "That the 
Fathers of the council of Nice after this manner con- 
cluded by the Scriptures upon the true belief touching 
the Son of God."t Then applying all this to his pre- 
sent purpose, he adds, " That the Scripture says clearly 
and expressly that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the 
Father : and that this is agreed upon by both sides, 
both by the Greeks and the Latins." J But as Scrip- 
ture has not so expressly declared itself whether the 
Holy Ghost proceed also from the Son or not, and as 
this is the thing now in question, the Latins affirming 
it, and the Greeks on the other side denying it, he 
says : " We ought therefore to prove this from some 
other parts, which are there more clearly delivered."§ 
This he afterwards performs, and indeed, in my judg- 
ment, very learnedly and happily; proving this doubt- 
ful point out of other passages that are more clear. 
And this was the judgment of this great person; 
which will not give any offence to those of the Church 
of Rome, because it came from one that was on their 
side. Neither do I see what could have been spoken 
more rationally. And indeed this is the course that is 
observed in all sciences whatever. 

If an adversary doubt of the truth of what we 

* Km 7rpa>ret fxiv /u» navvcc fiovteo-Qiti JVa/>/wJW \*/uifi*Viiv «t ths ypa<$ns % 
tovtco yap km 7rox\ous Icrjuiv toov ctipiTiKoov ^jpno-ctuivoug too TrpoKAM/ujuctTi' 
ahX? av ti Tot; ovtoo teyo/uevots &ko\quQqv h, km tovto ths ims tijuhs agtow 
Z,(tclvtcioo zi n tcis ah»Qi<ri, xat avuvrippnTois havnou/uevov <p<zivoiTo, tovto 

{JwftVCL 7rtXpdJi%i<rQeU TpC7T0V. 'ETTg/Ttf. TOOV fJM <T0L<pO)S dp»JUiVC»)V t CLVTHV THV 

ypcLqm xa/ufictvitv £i£cl<7kx\qv, \% L>v &W0Q1 7tov crct<pi<rr6pov 7rpny(xtiTeu£Td,i' 
Trpo; Jstovtoic tm foKoucrctv StciqciovidLV tfyyou/uevovs xvitv 7ritpaL<rQx.i, Kstipovg ts, 
km xpzicti;, km Sizqopcvs moiety km ta toimjto, 7r&pcLKa.{AfiAvovTcts. — Scholar. 
Orat. 3, t. 4. Cone. Gen. p. 650. 

f Ibid. p. 652 et 653. 

t To y.iv ouv, \k too 7ra,rpos zK7ropevzo~QM to 7rvevjucL to aytov, kutm /uev 

JlAppttJiiV h T» ypcLtyV, OfJLOXOytlTcLl cTg 7TO.p± 7rttVT06V HJUW, &c. 

§ Ovkquv i& tivm aKKuv tguto o-vvcLy&BM fit, q&vepvs **# hiyofAWuv, 


propose, we are to prove it by such maxims as are 
acknowledged and allowed of by him, making good 
that which is doubtful by that which is certain, and 
clearing that which is obscure by that which is evi- 
dent. This is the rule that I conceive we ought to 
abide by, in the disputes that are among us at this 
day. The word of God is our common book; let us 
therefore search into it, for that upon which we may 
ground our own belief; and by which we may over- 
throw the opinion of our adversary. As for example, 
it is there said clearly and expressly, that what our 
Saviour Christ took at his last supper, was bread: 
and herein we all agree. But it is not at all there 
expressed, whether this bread was afterwards chang- 
ed or annihilated. And this is now the question in 
dispute among us. We ought therefore (according 
to the counsel of Scholarius) to prove this by some 
other things which are there delivered clearly. And 
if you do this, you have got the victory: if not, I do 
not at all see why or how you can oblige any one to 
believe it. 

In like manner the Scripture tells us, in terms as 
express as can be, that our Saviour Christ command- 
ed his Apostles to take and eat, and to drink that 
which he gave them in celebrating the eucharist. 
But it does not at all say, that he commanded them 
to offer the same in sacrifice, either then or after- 
wards. And this is now the question : which it con- 
cerns those of the Church of Rome, if they will have 
us believe it,, to prove by some other things, which 
are clearly and expressly delivered in the word of God. 

The Scripture, in like manner, says expressly that 
Jesus Christ is the mediator betwixt God and man: 
and that he is the head of the Church; and that he 
purges us by his blood from our sins. Now in all 
this, both sides are fully agreed. But it is not all 
there expressed that the departed saints are media- 
tors ; that the Pope is the head of the Church ; and 
that our souls are in part cleansed from their sins by 
the fire of purgatory. Herein lies the controversy be- 
tween us. The learned Scholarius's opinion herein 


would now be, that certainly those who propose these 
points as articles of faith, must deduce and collect 
them from some things which are clearly delivered in 
the Scriptures; for otherwise they are not to be press- 
ed as truths. And although in matters of religion, or 
indeed in any other things of importance, a man may 
very well be excused for not believing a thing, when 
there appears no reason, to oblige him to believe it; 
yet, if those who reject the articles now disputed 
among us, have a mind to go further, and to prove 
positively the falseness of them; you see this author 
has laid down the way by which they are to proceed. 
He accounts those very absurd who require at your 
hands that you should show them all things expressly 
delivered in the Scripture: and this ought principally 
to be understood of negative propositions; of which 
no science gives you any certain account : forasmuch 
as to go about to number them all up, would be both 
an endless and also unprofitable piece of work. It is 
sufficient to deliver the positive truth. For, as what- 
ever rightly follows thereupon is true; in like manner, 
whatsoever clashes with or contradicts the same is 
false. Would you therefore demonstrate those pro- 
positions that are pressed upon you to be false? Only 
compare them with those things that are clearly and 
expressly delivered in the Scripture ; and if you find 
them contrary to any thing there set down, receive 
them not by any means. As for example, if a Pro- 
testant, not contenting himself with having answered 
all those reasons which are brought to prove that 
there is such a place as Purgatory, shall yet desire to 
go further, and to make it appear that the opinion is 
false ; he is in this case to have recourse to the Scrip- 
ture, and to examine it by those things which are 
there clearly and expressly delivered on the state of 
the soul, after it is departed this life, and touching the 
cause and means of the expiation of our sins, and the 
like. If the opinion of purgatory be found to contra- 
dict anything there delivered, then, according to Scho- 
lar ius, "it ought not to be received by any means. " 
But the brevity which we proposed to ourselves in 


this discourse, permits us not to prosecute this point 
any further. 

As for the other question, it is no very difficult 
matter to resolve it. For, although we do not indeed 
allow any supreme and infallible authority to the 
writings of the Fathers, yet we do not therefore at 
once account them useless. If there were nothing of 
use in religion, saving what was also infallible, we 
should have but little good of any human writings. 
Those who have written in our own age, or a little 
before, are of no authority at all, against either party. 
Yet we read them, and also derive much benefit from 
them. How much more advantage then may we 
make, by studying the writings of the Fathers, whose 
piety and learning were for the most part much great- 
er than that of the moderns ? Augustine believed 
them not in any thing otherwise than as he found 
what they delivered to be grounded upon reason; and 
yet, he held them in very great esteem. The like 
may be said of Jerome, who had read almost all of 
them over; and yet he takes the liberty sometimes to 
reprove them somewhat sharply, where he finds them 
not speaking to his mind. Though you should deprive 
them not only of this supremacy, which yet they ne- 
ver sought after, but should rob them also of their 
fame, yet would they still be of very great use to us. 
For books do not therefore profit us, because they 
were of such a man's writing ; but rather because 
they instruct us in those things that are good and 
honest, and keep us out of error, and make us abhor 
those things that are vicious. Blot out, if you please, 
the name of Augustine out of the title of those excel- 
lent books of his Be Civitate Bei, or those other 
which he wrote Be Boctrina Christiana. His wri- 
tings will instruct you not a whit the less; neither 
will you find the less benefit from them. The like 
may be said of all the rest. 

First of all, therefore, you will find in the Fathers 
many earnest and zealous exhortations to holiness of 
life, and to the observance of the discipline of Jesus 
Christ. Secondly, you will there meet with very 


strong and solid proofs of those fundamental princi- 
ples of our religion on which we are all agreed: and 
also many excellent things developed, tending to the 
right understanding of these mysteries, and also of 
the Scriptures wherein they are contained. In this 
very particular, their authority may be of good use 
to you, and may serve as a probable argument of the 
truth. For is it not a wonderful thing to see, that so 
many great wits, born in so many several ages, during 
the space of fifteen hundred years, and in so many 
several countries, being also of such different tempers, 
and who in other things were of such contrary opinions, 
should notwithstanding be found all of them to agree 
so constantly and unanimously in the fundamentals of 
Christianity? that amidst such great diversity in wor- 
ship, they all adore one and the same Christ ? preach 
one and the same sanctification? hope all of them for 
one and the same immortality? acknowledge all of 
them the same gospels? find therein all of them great 
and high mysteries ? 

The exquisite wisdom, and the inestimable beauty 
itself, of the discipline of Jesus Christ, I confess, is 
the most forcible and certain argument of the truth of 
it : yet certainly this consideration also is, in my opin- 
ion, no small proof of the same. For, pray, what 
probability is there, that so many holy men, who were 
endued (as it appears by their writings) with such 
admirable parts, with so much strength and clearness 
of understanding, should all of them be so grossly 
deceived, as to set so high a value upon this disci- 
pline, as to suffer even to death for it ; unless it had 
in it some certain divine virtue, calculated to make an 
impression on the souls of men? What likelihood is 
there that a few besotted atheists, who rail against 
this sacred and venerable religion, should have been 
more successful in lighting upon the truth, than so 
many excellent men, who have all so unanimously 
borne testimony to the truth ? 

As for Atheists, their vicious life ought to render 
their testimony suspected by every one ; notwithstand- 
ing they may be otherwise (as indeed they conceive 


themselves to be) able men. For what wonder is it, 
if a whoremonger, or an ambitious person, cry down 
that discipline that condemns their vices to everlasting 
fire? that he that drowns himself every day, and at 
length vomits up his soul in wine, should hate that 
religion which forbids drunkenness upon pain of dam- 
nation? The great reason that these men have to 
wish that it were false, must needs make any man 
cease to wonder at their pronouncing it to be false. To 
take any notice therefore of what such wretches as 
these may say, is the same as if you should judge, by 
taking the opinion of common strumpets, of the equity 
or injustice of the laws that enjoin people to live hon- 
estly. But the case is clearly otherwise with these 
holy men, who have so constantly and so unanimously 
taught the truth of the Christian religion. For as 
they were men born and brought up in the very same 
infirmities with other men, we cannot doubt but that 
they also naturally had strong inclinations to those 
vices, which our Saviour Christ forbids; and very 
little affection to those virtues which he commands. 
Forasmuch, therefore, as notwithstanding all this, 
they have yet all of them constantly maintained that 
his doctrine is true, their testimony certainly in this 
case neither can nor ought in any wise to be suspected. 
So that even if they had been destitute of those great 
and incomparable advantages of parts and learning, 
which they had above the enemies of Christianity, 
their bare word however is much rather to be taken 
than that of the others; seeing that these men are 
manifestly carried away by the force of their own vile 
affections, of which the others cannot possibly be sus- 
pected guilty. And as for those differences in opinion, 
which are sometimes found amongst them, on certain 
points of religion, some whereof we have formerly 
set down; these things are so far from disparaging 
the weight of their testimonies, that on the contrary 
they rather very much add to it. For this must acquit 
their consenting of all suspicion, that some perhaps 
might have, that it proceeded from some combina- 


tion, or some correspondence and mutual intelligence. 
When you find them so disagreeing among them- 
selves, on so many several points, it is an evident 
argument that they have not learnt their knowledge 
from one another; nor yet have all agreed upon the 
same thing by common deliberation; but have all of 
them collected it out of a serious examination and 
consideration of the things themselves. And if we 
received no other benefit from the writings of the 
Fathers, yet would this be considerable. 

But now, that the benefit and satisfaction, which 
we shall receive from this consideration, may not be 
interrupted and disturbed by our meeting with so 
many different private opinions of theirs ; we are to 
take notice, that Christianity consists not in subtleties, 
nor so much in the great number of its articles, as in 
the power and efficacy of them. A great part of these 
points of faith, and the end of all the rest, is sanctiji- 
cation; that is to say, a pure worship of God, and a 
hearty charity towards men. You may therefore 
boldly conclude that man to be a true observer of this 
discipline, whom you shall find to have a right sense 
and apprehension of these two points. Though perhaps 
he may be ignorant of those others, that exist rather 
in speculation than in practice, you ought not to reject 
him. And if, carried away by his own curiosity, or 
some other reason, he chance to err in some of those 
articles, bear with him notwithstanding. As God for- 
gives us our sins, so does he also forgive us our errors. 
The hay and the stubble and the chaff shall be con- 
sumed : but yet he that buildeth therewith shall be 
saved, if he only hold fast to the foundation. Nor 
ought you to be troubled, if now and then you meet 
with some ignorant or perhaps some erroneous pas- 
sages in the Fathers respecting these unessential 
points. They are not a whit the less Christian on 
this account, and may for all this have been most 
faithful servants of Jesus Christ. There is scarcely 
any face in the world so beautiful, but that it has 
some speckle or blemish in it? Yet is it not either 


the less esteemed, or the less beloved. The natural 
condition of mortal men and things, is to have some 
mixture of imperfection. 

But now, besides what has been hitherto said, we 
may, in my opinion, make another very considerable 
use of the Fathers. For there sometimes arise such 
turbulent spirits, as will needs broach doctrines arising 
from their own imagination, which are not grounded 
upon any principle of the Christian religion. I say, 
therefore, that the authority of the ancients may very 
properly and seasonably be made use of against the 
assurance of these men; by showing that the Fathers 
were utterly ignorant of any such fancies as these in- 
dividuals propose to the world. And if this can be 
proved, we ought then certainly to conclude that no 
such doctrine was ever preached to mankind, either 
by our Saviour Christ, or by his Apostles. For what 
probability is there, that those holy Doctors of former 
ages, from whose hands Christianity has been derived 
down unto us, should be ignorant of any of those things 
which had been revealed and recommended by our 
Saviour, as important and necessary to salvation? It 
is true indeed that the Fathers, being deceived either 
by some false manner of argumentation, or else by 
some seeming authority, do sometimes deliver such 
things as have not been revealed by our Saviour 
Christ, but are evidently either false or ill founded ; 
as we have formerly shown in those examples before 
produced by us. It is true, moreover, that among 
those things which have been revealed by our Sa- 
viour Christ in the Scripture, which yet are not ab- 
solutely necessary to salvation, the Fathers may have 
been ignorant of some of them ; either because time 
had not as yet discovered what the sense of them was; 
or because, for lack of giving good heed to them, or 
by their being carried away with strong feelings, they 
did not then perceive what has since been ascertained. 
But that they should all of them have been igno- 
rant of any article that is necessary to salvation, is 
altogether impossible. For, according to this, they 
should all have been deprived of salvation ; which, 


I suppose, every honest soul would tremble at the 
thought of. 

I say then, and, as I conceive, have sufficiently 
proved in this treatise, that an argument which con- 
cludes the truth of any proposition from the Fathers 
having maintained the same, is very weak and ill 
founded; as supposing that which is clearly false, that 
the Fathers maintained nothing which had not been 
revealed by our Saviour Christ. For thus you might 
prove by the general agreement of the Fathers, that 
all the departed souls are shut up together in a certain 
place, or receptacle, till the day of judgment; or that 
the eucharist is necessary for little infants, and the 
like; where every one sees how insufficient and in- 
valid this kind of argumentation is. To say the truth, 
such is the proceeding of the Church of Rome, when 
they go about to prove, by the authority of the Fathers, 
those articles which they propose to the world, and 
which are rejected by the Protestants. 

I say moreover, that to conclude the nullity or 
falseness of any article, not necessary to salvation, 
from the general silence of the Fathers respecting the 
same, is a very absurd way of arguing; as supposing 
a thing which is also manifestly false; namely, that 
the Fathers must necessarily have seen and clearly 
known all those things which Jesus Christ has revealed 
in his word. Such a kind of argument would it be 
thought among the Franciscans, if any one should 
conclude against them, from the silence of the Fathers, 
that our Saviour Christ has not at all revealed that the 
blessed Virgin Mary was conceived without sin. But 
yet I confess, on the other side, that in those points 
that are accounted as absolutely necessary to salva- 
tion, an argument that should be drawn from the 
general silence of the Fathers, to prove the nullity or 
falseness of it, would be very pertinent, and indeed 
unanswerable. As, for example, his manner of argu- 
mentation would be very rational and sound, who 
should conclude that those means of salvation which 
are proposed by a Mahomet, suppose, or a David 
George, or the like sectaries, are null, and contrary to 


the will of our Saviour Christ, (however much these 
men may seem to honour him) seeing that none of 
the ancient Christians speak so much as one syllable 
of it, and are utterly ignorant of all those secrets which 
these wretches have preached to their disciples, and 
delivered as infallible and necessary means of salva- 
tion. After this manner did Irenseus dispute against 
the Valentinians, and others of the Gnostics; who 
promulgated their own senseless dreams and the ab- 
surd issues of their own brain, saying that the Crea- 
tor of the world was but an angel; and that there 
were above him certain divine powers which they 
called JEoneSj that is to say, ages ; some of them 
making more of these and others fewer, and some 
reckoning to the number of three hundred and sixty- 
five, and an infinite number of other similar prodigies; 
never showing any ground for the same, either in 
reason or out of the Scripture. Irenseus* therefore, 
that he might make it appear to the world that this 
strange doctrine was produced from their own imagi- 
nation only, undertakes to visit the archives of all the 
Churches that had been either planted or watered by 
the holy Apostles, and turns over all their records, 
evidences, and ancient monuments ; and these JEones, 
Achamot and Barbelo, of the Gnostics no where 
appearing, nor so much as the least part or trace of 
them, he concludes that the Apostles had never de- 
livered any such thing to their disciples, either by 
writing or by word of mouth, as these impostors pre- 
tended they had. For certainly if they had done so, 
the memory of it could not have been so utterly lost. 
This is also the method that Tertullian followed, in 
his disputations against these very heretics and others 
of the like description, in the twenty-second chapter 
of his book De Prsescriptionibus adversus Hsereticos, 
and in other places. The practice of these great per- 
sons, who made use of it themselves, will here serve 
to prove to us that this course is correct and advan- 

* Irenseus, 1. 3. contr. Hae. c. 1, 2, 3, & 4. \ 
t Id. 3. c. 2. 


Thus you see that the authority of the Fathers is of 
very great use in the Church, and serves as an out- 
work to the Scriptures, for repelling the presumption 
of those who would forge a new faith. But inasmuch 
as those who broach new doctrines of their own 
imagination, do ordinarily slight the Holy Scriptures 
as those very heretics did, whom Irenaeus confuted ; 
who impudently accused them " of not being right, 
and that they are of no authority, and speak in very 
ambiguous terms ; and that they are not able to inform 
a man of the truth, unless they are acquainted with 
tradition, the truth having been delivered (as these 
men pretended) not in writing, but by word of 
mouth ;"* — for this reason, I say, as well as others, 
are the writings of the Fathers of very great use in 
these disputes; and I conceive this to be one of the 
principal ends for which Divine Providence has, in 
despite of so many confusions and changes preserved 
so many of them safe to our times. 

If therefore the Protestants should propose from 
their own imagination, and press as absolutely neces- 
sary to salvation, any positive article which does not 
appear in antiquity, without question this course might, 
with very good reason, be made use of against them. 
But it is most evident that there is no such thing in 
their belief; for they maintain only such things as are 
either expressly delivered in the Scriptures, or else 
are evidently deduced from thence ; and such as have 
also been expounded, the greatest part of them, and 
interpreted by the ancients, not in their own private 
writings only, but even in their creeds and synodical 
determinations also. They pretend not either to any 
particular revelation or secret tradition, or any other 
new principle of doctrine. Their faith is founded 
only upon the most ancient, and most authentic instru- 
ment of Christianity, the Bible. Only in their exposi- 

* Cum enim ex Scripturis arguuntur, in accusationcm convertun- 
tur ipsarum Scripturarum, quasi non recte habeant, neque sint ex 
auctoritate, et quia varie sint dictse, et quia non possit ex his inveniri 
Veritas, ab his qui nesciant traditionem. Non enim per litteras tra- 
ditam illam, sed per vivam vocem. — Iren. Z. 3. c. 2. 


tions either of the doctrines therein contained, or 
other passages, they produce some few things that are 
not at all found in the Fathers. But these things 
being not necessary to salvation, the argument which 
is brought from the silence of the Fathers herein, is 
not sufficient to prove the falsity of them; time, experi- 
ence, the assistance of others, and the very errors also 
of the Fathers, having (as they say) now laid that open 
to them, which was heretofore more difficult and hard 
to be discovered, and noticed of Divine Revelation. 
Who knows not that a dwarf, mounted upon a giant's 
shoulders, looks higher and sees further than the 
giant himself? It would be ridiculous in any man to 
conclude, that what the dwarf discovers is not in 
nature, because in that case the giant must also have 
seen it. Neither would he be much wiser, that 
should accuse the dwarf of presumption, because, 
forsooth, he has told us that of which the giant said 
not a word: seeing that it is the giant to whom the 
dwarf is beholden for the greatest part of his know- 
ledge. This is our case, say the Protestants: we are 
mounted upon the shoulders of that great and high 
giant, Antiquity. That advantage which we have 
above it by its means, enables us to see many things 
in Divine Revelation, which it did not see. Yet this 
cannot be any ground for presumption in us, because 
we«see more than it did; forasmuch as it is this very 
antiquity to which we owe a great part of this our 

It is therefore certainly clear, that as for the Pro- 
testants, and what concerns the positive points of their 
faith, they are wholly without the compass of the 
dispute. And as for those of the Church of Rome, 
they cannot, for the reasons before given, make any 
advantage of the testimony of the ancients, for the 
proving of any of those points of doctrine which they 
maintain, save only of those wherein their adversaries 
agree with them: and therefore, if they would have 
us come over to their belief, they must necessarily 
have recourse to some other kinds of proofs. But yet I 
do not see but that we may very well make inquiry into 


antiquity, respecting many articles which are now 
maintained by those of the Church of Rome : and if 
we find that the ancients have not said any thing of 
the same, we may then positively conclude, that they 
are not to be accounted as any part of the Christian 

I confess, that there are some articles against which 
this argument is of no force ; as those which they do 
not account necessary to salvation, and which the 
ancients heretofore might have been, and we also at 
this day may be, ignorant of. But certainly this ar- 
gument, in my judgment, would be utterly unanswer- 
able against such points as they press as necessary, 
and whereon indeed they would have our salvation 
wholly to depend: as, for example, the supreme au- 
thority of the Pope and of the Church, which owns 
him as its head; the adoration of the holy sacrament 
of the eucharist, the sacrifice of the mass, the neces- 
sity of auricular confession, and the like. For if they 
are of such great importance, as they would make us 
believe, it would be a point of high, impiety to say 
that the Fathers knew nothing of them: in the same 
manner as it would be a most absurd thing to main- 
tain, that though they did know them, they would 
not yet speak one word of them, in all those books 
which we have of theirs at this day. And if they had 
said any thing at all of them in their writings^ we 
have no reason in the world to suspect, that possibly 
those passages where mention was made of them, 
may have been erased, or corrupted and altered, by 
false hands : seeing that this piece of knavery would 
have been done to the disadvantage of those who had 
these books in their custody. 

We have rather very good reason to suspect, that 
whatever alterations there are, they have been made 
in favour of the Church of Rome ; as we have proved 
before in the first book. If therefore, after so long a 
time, and after so many indexes as they of the Church 
of Rome have put forth, and so great a desire as they 
have had to find these doctrines of theirs in the wri- 
tings of the Fathers, and the little conscience that 


they have sometimes made of foisting into the writings 
of the Fathers what they could not find there ; we 
can still make it appear, that they are not to be found 
there at all — after all this, I say, who can possibly 
doubt but that the Fathers were ignorant of them? 
Who will ever be persuaded to believe, that they held 
them necessary to salvation? And if they were not 
known to be such then, how can any body imagine 
that they should come to be such now? 

In conclusion, my opinion is, that although the 
authority of the Fathers be not sufficient to prove the 
truth of those articles which are now maintained by 
the Church of Rome against the Protestants, even 
though the ancients believed the same, it may, not- 
withstanding, serve to prove the falsity of them, in 
case we should find by the Fathers that the ancients 
were wholly ignorant of them, or at least acknow- 
ledged them not for such, as they would now have 
us believe them to be: which is a business that so 
nearly concerns the Protestants, that, to be able to 
bring about their design, I conceive they ought to 
employ a good part of their time in reading over the 
books of the ancients. Only it is requisite that each 
party, when they undertake so tedious and so impor- 
tant a business as this, should come well provided 
with all necessary qualifications, as a knowledge of 
the languages, and of history, and should also be well 
read in the Scriptures; and that they use herein their 
utmost diligence and attention, and withal read over 
exactly whatsoever we have left us of the Fathers, 
not omitting any thing that they can obtain ; because 
a little short passage many times gives a man very 
much light in elucidating their meaning: and not 
think (as some, who much deceive themselves do) 
that they perfectly know what the sense and belief 
of the ancients was, because perhaps they have spent 
four or five months in reading them over. But above 
all, it is necessary that they come to this business free 
from all partiality and prejudice, which is indeed the 
greatest and the most general cause of that obscurity 
which is found in the writings of the Fathers, whilst 


every one endeavours to make them speak to his 
sense; whereas in the greatest part of these points of 
religion, which are now controverted amongst us, 
these ancient authors really believed much less than 
the one party does, and some little more than the 
other does: and there are but a very few points of all 
this number, wherein they are fully and absolutely 
of the same opinion with either of the two parties. 
Neither is it sufficient in this business to take notice 
of such testimonies as either positively affirm or deny 
those things which we are searching after, because, 
however clear they may perhaps be, it can scarcely 
be conceived but that a quick wit will find something 
to darken the sense of them: as you may observe in 
all books of controversy ; where you shall have them 
so baffle and make nothing of such testimonies as are 
brought against them out of the ancients, that you 
would hardly know what opinion to form. 

You must also observe what are the necessary con- 
sequences of each particular article : it being impossi- 
ble to conclude upon any one point of any importance, 
but that there will presently follow upon it divers 
consequences, as well within as without the Church. 
As for example, you are to consider what the conse- 
quences are of the transubstantiation of the eucha- 
rist, as now held by the Church of Rome; of purga- 
tory; and of the monarchical authority of the Pope: 
and when you have observed them well, you are 
then to mark, in reading the books of the ancients, 
whether they appear there in whole or in part. For 
if you find them not there at all, it is a most certain 
argument, that the doctrine from whence they pro- 
ceed did not then exist. 

I shall not, however, proceed any further in this 
discourse, since various others have already treated 
hereof at large ; it being, in my judgment, no difficult 
matter to conclude, from what we have here delivered, 
how we ought to read the Fathers. 



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